We’ve seen this before. In April of 2011, he was leading the Republican field with 26 percent, about the same as he is getting now. He didn’t run but the polls proved he had a following and he wanted to play a prominent role in the process. Remember when, in 2011, he was named the moderator at a Newsmax sponsored debate to be held two days after Christmas? It was sort of a nutty idea—more debates? Christmas?—but he was confident he could force candidates to the stage. It didn’t happen. Mitt Romney politely but firmly turned down the invite and eventually Trump withdrew as moderator. It fizzled.
A few days before the Nevada primary, he endorsed Romney and, as a prominent businessman in a local community, it probably helped, just as dozens of other like endorsements were positive. Some speculated that he had demanded a speaking slot at the convention in exchange for the endorsement. Nope, never happened, and he didn’t speak at the convention. Like many others, he helped raise money and did what he could to help the campaign. He didn’t get what he wanted but he handled it well.
Donald Trump is having a great time. He’s raising the profile of issues he cares about and contributing to a national discussion. I call that a good thing in a world in which far too many are apathetic and can’t be bothered to contribute.
It’s not entirely dissimilar to the role a very different sort of candidate named Bernie Sanders is making in the Democratic primary. But Bernie has fought many losing public battles and believes there is honor in defeat. Donald Trump believes losing makes you a loser. And he will do anything to avoid that label.