- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 30, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Mitt Romney and Donald Trump may not be cut from the same Republican cloth, but they share the goal of making Barack Obama a one-term president. The uptight, carefully controlled presidential nominee and the loose-lipped, uncontrollable businessman-TV star make an odd pair. Their appearances together demonstrate that the GOP is coalescing behind Mr. Romney, and that ought to make the Obama campaign worry.

On Tuesday, the real estate mogul held a $2 million fundraiser for the Romney campaign at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. In the hour before the event, Mr. Trump did a series of phone interviews defending his opinion that Mr. Obama was born in Kenya. He told CNN, “A lot of people do not think it was an authentic certificate,” referring to the Hawaiian birth certificate released by the White House.

While most Americans, including Mr. Romney, are satisfied that Mr. Obama is a natural-born citizen or just want to drop the issue, some on the right still think otherwise. That drives Mr. Obama’s staff nuts.

Two of the eight press releases the Obama campaign sent out on Tuesday were about Mr. Trump. “Mitt Romney’s continued embrace of Donald Trump and refusal to condemn his disgraceful conspiracy theories demonstrates [sic] his complete lack of moral leadership,” said deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter. “If Mitt Romney lacks the backbone to stand up to a charlatan like Donald Trump because he’s so concerned about lining his campaign’s pockets, what does that say about the kind of president he would be?” From the White House podium, press secretary Jay Carney said on Tuesday that Mr. Romney should disavow Mr. Trump.

Mr. Romney didn’t take his opponent’s advice. “I don’t agree with all the people who support me. And my guess is they don’t all agree with everything I believe in,” Mr. Romney told reporters before the event. “But I need to get 50.1 percent or more. And I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.” At the private fundraiser, the former Massachusetts governor thanked his billionaire host “for twisting the arms that it takes to bring a fundraiser together.” This wasn’t a one-time show, but rather a longer-term alliance.

According to Associated Press, the host of “Celebrity Apprentice” already had recorded automated phone calls for Mr. Romney and hosted a fundraiser with his wife, Ann, last month. Now the campaign is raffling off a joint dinner with Mr. Trump and Mr. Romney in New York for a minimum $3 donation.

Mr. Trump is enormously popular, wealthy and an asset to the Republican Party when it comes to raising money. Mr. Obama also has multimillion-dollar fundraisers hosted by Hollywood movie stars such as George Clooney and Sarah Jessica Parker. The difference is that Mr. Trump seriously considered a run for president, impressed the party’s conservative base with his tough political stance on a wide array of issues and is bringing his political supporters to Mr. Romney. Mr. Clooney can’t say the same of his fans.

Mr. Romney’s win in Tuesday’s Texas primary gave him a lock on the Republican nomination. It’s this momentum in the former governor’s favor that’s really driving the Democratic overreaction to Mr. Trump’s involvement in the race. Time will tell whether this means voters will be ready to say “You’re fired” to Mr. Obama in November.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.

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