Trump’s Potential to Hurt Obama: Bigger than Both of Them
posted at 6:16 pm on April 11, 2011 by Howard Portnoy
As President Obama begins week two of his campaign for re-election, he finds his poll numbers listing once again into the danger zone. His Gallup job approval rating today is at 45 percent, a telling number since no president ever won re-election with a Gallup approval rating under 47 percent going into Election Day.
Of course, Election Day is still a year and a half off. Much can happen between now and then. Besides, Obama has a not-so-secret weapon working in his favor—the Republicans’ chronic inability to find a serious contender among their ranks.
Even seemingly better news for the incumbent, at least at first blush, is the identity of the GOP candidate currently tied for second place among would-be nominees. He is an unpolished and graceless blowhard with garish tastes and an ego even bigger than Obama’s. He is real estate mogul Donald Trump. And these qualities—his boorishness and in-your-face attitude—are precisely what makes him a force to be reckoned with.
A more reserved and seasoned candidate would know better than to touch, let alone fully embrace, a hot potato like the subject of Obama’s birthplace. But not Trump. He has been all over the airwaves, most recently on CNN on Sunday, asking:
Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate? The fact is, if he wasn’t born in this country, he shouldn’t be the president of the United States. The Constitution requires that the president be a ‘natural-born citizen.’
The first inclination of news junkies and pundits is to laugh—to ask whether Trump has even heard of the “birther” controversy. The surprising answer is that he has not only heard of it but is in the process of reinventing it. As he iterated yesterday:
It’s a very sad thing, because the people—the birthers—they got labeled and they got labeled so negatively and even the word ‘birther’ is a negative word. If you come out and … even question, the press goes wild. They get angry at the question.
The Obama campaign so far has tried to deflect the criticism by calling Trump’s comments a “sideshow” and asserting—quite correctly, in my view—that “there’s zero chance that Donald Trump would ever be hired by the American people.”
But Trump’s chances of winning even the Republican nomination, which are equally slim, are not what the Obama team needs to worry about. Rather it the mere fact of his ongoing presence in the campaign. The longer Trump harps on the subject of Obama’s birth certificate, the more doubt he raises in the minds of impressionable voters.
The question of whether the president was born in America is not and never was a serious one. It doesn’t have to be as long as enough voters are curious about it.
- Poll: Obama support among blacks, Hispanics slips (VIDEO)
- New poll has Obama’s approval rating at 42%, lowest yet
- Poll: Obama in a dead heat with generic Republican in 2012