Monday, May 2, 2016

Democrats Plan to Pound Trump Before He’s Nominated

I'm not sure what to think of this.

Donald Trump is not Mitt Romney, and he's not going to take attacks from the despicable Democrats lying down. And as we've seen since Trump entered the race, the more vicious the attacks on him, the more rabid his supporters become. I don't expect that to change once the attacks start coming from Pri­or­it­ies USA Ac­tion, or the DNC for that matter. Will Trump be able to respond in kind before receiving public funding for the general election (assuming he's not "self-funded" after all)? Who knows? Moe Lane seems to expect Trump to get blown out of the water, but he's blogging at Red State, hardly your neutral source for analysis on such issues.

In any case, at National Journal (via Memeorandum):
Super PAC will air $20 million in negative ads before Donald Trump can counter with general-election money, a strategy that defined Mitt Romney in 2012.

Don­ald Trump loves to brag about how he al­ways coun­ter­punches when at­tacked, but he could soon be tak­ing an un­answered, $20 mil­lion pum­mel­ing in those few states that will de­cide the Novem­ber elec­tion.

A series of ads paint­ing him as an un­ser­i­ous, un­ready, and un­scru­pu­lous busi­ness­man who also hap­pens to dis­par­age wo­men and minor­it­ies is to start air­ing June 8, the day after the fi­nal primar­ies in which Trump is likely to clinch the Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial nom­in­a­tion.

“That’s a good day to start,” said Justin Barasky with Pri­or­it­ies USA Ac­tion, a su­per PAC back­ing Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton. “We’re not go­ing to the make the same mis­take Re­pub­lic­ans did in wait­ing too long [to go on the of­fens­ive].”

For five full weeks, in a lull between the primary sea­son and the GOP con­ven­tion, these mes­sages may have the air­waves to them­selves in sev­en swing states, with the no­tori­ously tight-fis­ted Trump loath to spend tens of mil­lions of his own money to counter the at­tack and the Re­pub­lic­an Party un­able to de­fend him un­til he of­fi­cially be­comes the nom­in­ee.

If Re­pub­lic­ans find this strategy fa­mil­i­ar, they should. It’s ex­actly what Pri­or­it­ies did to 2012 GOP nom­in­ee Mitt Rom­ney in those months after he had se­cured the nom­in­a­tion, fol­low­ing a long and ex­pens­ive primary battle—but be­fore he was of­fi­cially nom­in­ated and al­lowed to use mil­lions in gen­er­al-elec­tion money he had already col­lec­ted.

“Mitt Rom­ney was a fun­da­ment­ally likable guy. Look what they did to Mitt Rom­ney. They turned him in­to his­tory’s greatest mon­ster,” said Rick Wilson, a Re­pub­lic­an strategist and lead­ing “Nev­er Trump” voice who has been warn­ing for months that Demo­crats would start blis­ter­ing Trump the mo­ment he se­cured the nom­in­a­tion.

In 2012, Pri­or­it­ies spent $21.5 mil­lion at­tack­ing Rom­ney between May and the end of Au­gust, when the former Mas­sachu­setts gov­ernor form­ally ac­cep­ted the nom­in­a­tion at the GOP con­ven­tion in Tampa. The ads fo­cused on five swing states, most not­ably Rust Belt Ohio, and por­trayed Rom­ney as a heart­less plu­to­crat who en­riched him­self by shut­ting down factor­ies and ship­ping jobs over­seas. The ads were cred­ited with turn­ing Rom­ney’s busi­ness ex­per­i­ence from an as­set in­to a li­ab­il­ity among many gen­er­al-elec­tion voters. In Ohio, Pres­id­ent Obama re­ceived 2 per­cent more sup­port from white voters and non-col­lege gradu­ates than he did na­tion­ally—a big factor in his 3-point vic­tory there that Novem­ber that sealed his reelec­tion.

Wilson pre­dicted that Pri­or­it­ies would have a much easi­er chal­lenge with Trump than it did with Rom­ney, giv­en Trump’s already high dis­ap­prov­al rat­ings and the host of con­tro­ver­sies in his past, from the de­funct Trump Uni­versity to his mul­tiple bank­ruptcies in At­lantic City.

Pri­or­it­ies will also find its Re­pub­lic­an op­pos­i­tion in a far more pre­cari­ous fin­an­cial con­di­tion. While both Rom­ney’s cam­paign and his su­per PAC were de­pleted by the drawn-out primary, he was non­ethe­less a prodi­gious fun­draiser, ul­ti­mately col­lect­ing $820 mil­lion for him­self and the Re­pub­lic­an Party and an­oth­er $153 mil­lion for his tech­nic­ally in­de­pend­ent su­per PAC.

Trump has no fun­drais­ing op­er­a­tion, has in­sul­ted the tra­di­tion­al GOP donor com­munity, and as of yet has not be­gun rais­ing money for the party. At a re­cent meet­ing, Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee mem­bers pub­licly ex­pressed con­fid­ence they could raise all the money needed. But privately, some mem­bers wor­ried that Trump as nom­in­ee won’t be able to raise a frac­tion of the $1 bil­lion that Clin­ton and Demo­crats are likely to spend.

Trump has avoided spend­ing money on his cam­paign whenev­er pos­sible, largely re­ly­ing on free cable TV cov­er­age to spread his mes­sage. And it’s un­clear how eas­ily he can write him­self eight-fig­ure checks, even if he wanted to...
Well, that doesn't sound particularly auspicious for the Manhattan mogul, but then, it's been a completely unpredictably election season thus far.

My bet is that Trump will continue to assume the mantle of respectability, and he'll ingratiate himself with the GOP establishment while turning increasingly to a by-the-book mainstream presidential campaign. He's going to have to fork over some of own cash if he's serious about rebutting the left's smears before Cleveland, but we'll see. We're already seeing the Republican establishment warming to a Trump candidacy, and my main hypothesis throughout is the both Republicans and conservatives hate Hillary more than they hate The Donald, so by the time of the general election we should be seeing a full-on battle among the historical constituencies of the two parties.

We're in uncharted territory here, but I'm loving it.

Still more at the link.