To be sure, Trump’s campaign isn’t totally standard: Few of his hires have presidential campaign experience; his Iowa chairwoman is a former contestant on his reality show, The Apprentice. He doesn’t have a pollster or a super PAC. Though his press secretary, Hope Hicks, occasionally tangles with the media, he frequently gets on the phone with reporters to speak for himself in articles about him, rather than deploying a spokesperson. (This is refreshing, and more candidates should do it.)
But Trump is a candidate—and an uncommonly successful one—and it’s silly to keep pretending that his campaign is a mere brand exercise or entertainment. He has hired a lot of staff and opened offices across the country. He has issued position papers (three so far: immigration, guns, and taxes). He’s organizing potential caucus- and primary-goers in the early-voting states and beyond. No other candidate, engaging in these activities, would be greeted with shock for doing the things presidential candidates are widely expected to do, particularly after he had been doing it, and proclaiming he was doing it to anyone who would listen, for months.
Indeed, by succeeding so easily at the campaign game, Trump has made a mockery of political journalism’s obsession with campaign strategy. Reporters, myself included, treat campaigns as a delicate and mysterious art, one whose practice reveals the inner core of the candidates themselves. Trump just found a bunch of people he liked and hired them, and it’s working out great. And isn’t that what he’s saying he would do if he gets elected?