In 1999, Garry Trudeau, the author of the comic strip Doonesbury, parodied the likely stump speech of Donald Trump, the billionaire brand and building builder, who was then considering a run for the Reform Party nomination for President of the United States. It went like this: “Biggest! Best! Me! It’s unbelievable! Biggest! Mine! Tallest! Biggest! Me!”
It is hard to imagine Trump took much offense. This morning he was on the Today Show, which is on NBC, the network that broadcasts Trump’s own hit show, The Apprentice. “I think I connect with people because I happen to be smart,” he said. “I happen to have a lot of common sense. I happen to know what I am doing. I built a great company.” Biggest. Best. Me. “I would run a great, great country. This country would be great again,” he added.
And, at least at this point in time, Trump cannot be easily dismissed. Two polls have come out in recent days showing Trump with serious popularity among Republican primary voters in New Hampshire. Public Policy Polling did a quick hit poll of New Hampshire Republican primary voters that showed Trump in second place with 21% support, compared to Mitt Romney, who polls at 27% as the front runner. (Notably, Romney does much better without Trump in the race, earning 40%, 25 points ahead of Mike Huckabee, who comes in second.) This was a small sample poll of just 384 people, with a margin of plus or minus 5 points.
But the respected Wall Street Journal/NBC poll (1,000 respondents, plus or minus 3%) shows similar results. Romney leads with 21% of the vote, followed by Trump and Huckabee, both tied at 17%. Early polls are not predictive of election results. Rudy Giuliani was polling at 29% in New Hampshire at this point in the 2008 cycle; he ended up getting 8.6% of the votes. Over at the Washington Post, Chris Cilizza lays out some of the reasons that Trump may be polling so well at this moment, including high name identification, his confrontational, all-media-all-the-time style, and his business background. But what is becoming clear is that Trump’s run will not live or die based upon how television pundits and campaign consultants apprise it. He already has some real support out in the field, even as the beltway pundits dismiss him for, among other things, latching onto verifiability of President Obama’s birth certificate as a central issue. It is up to him what he does with it. He says he will make an announcement of his intentions in May.