As Romney campaigns to be CEO of the USA, his conventional GOP opponents—Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour, and the others—can be expected to question his claim that he’s the best choice to revive the American economy. But they’ll be doing so as politicians, without much personal history to back up their charges. Trump, despite a past that includes a string of failed deals (he lost money in the casino business?), will be confronting Romney as a tycoon: businessmano-a-businessmano. This will add a great deal of sting to his lashing of Romney. If Trump says Romney is a corporate parasite and no master of The Art of the Deal, it will mean much more than Rick Santorum bleating the same point.
And there’s this: Trump can take the anti-Romney argument to more corners of the media than the traditional 2012 contestants. For the next eight or so months, the GOP presidential race will transpire on a relatively narrow media field: on cable TV news and the political pages of newspapers and websites—the usual spots. Trump the Celebrity transcends these confines. If he throws his hair into the ring, he will draw media attention that extends beyond the politerati. That means that when he’s blasting the front-runner as a buy-’em-and-bleed-’em empty suit, this anti-Romney message will resound in media that reaches less-politically minded people—that is, voters who don’t engage deeply during the primary season but who vote in the general election. People magazine, The View, whatever—Trump has more access to non-political information highways than the rest of the pack. Palin might be able to give Trump a run for his money in this regard, but the former half-term governor will hardly be as effective a critic of Romney’s business background as Trump.