- The Washington Times - Friday, May 6, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Trump campaign has been sending some mixed messages in recent days.

I’m not sure if it’s intentional — but if it is, it’s pretty genius.

First, there’s been some confusion over whether businessman Donald Trump is open to having a Democrat as his vice president. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who is leading Mr. Trump’s down-ticket search, suggested to the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that the real estate mogul was

Then in a Friday appearance on “Fox and Friends,” Mr. Trump said no way. Minutes later, in an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Mr. Carson suggested the right kind of Democrat would be considered.

Confused? Me too.

Now, I highly doubt Mr. Trump would ever consider a Democrat as a running mate — he already has a steep uphill climb in order to woo conservatives like House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse to his team.

Naming a Democrat as a running mate would tear what’s left of the GOP apart, much like what Arizona Sen. John McCain found out when he considered independent Sen. Joe Lieberman for the post in 2008.

That being said, Mr. Trump is doing horribly among independents in most polls, so perhaps a little talk about possibly naming a Democrat as his running mate could improve his favorability among them. Couldn’t hurt, right?

Next, is the issue of minimum wage. In an interview on CNN this week, Mr. Trump was asked whether he’d be open to raising the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. He replied he’d be “open to doing something with it, because I don’t like that.”

This is a very different stance than the one he took in the Republican debates, where he said he was against raising the federal minimum wage. However, Mr. Trump then went on to explain in the CNN interview that “you have to have something you can live on. But what I’m really looking to do is get people great jobs so they make much more money than that, much more money than the $15.”

So is he saying he’s open to raising the federal minimum wage, or that he’s not, because he’d like to provide good jobs instead?

Now, what I’d like to believe is Mr. Trump means is the later — that he’s going to work to provide good-paying, higher-level jobs for the American people when he is president. I also trust in Mr. Trump’s business acumen, that he knows raising the minimum wage would lead to higher unemployment and the higher overall cost of goods.

But, if you’re an independent or Democrat, perhaps you hear his stance differently. Mr. Trump knows he’s going up against Hillary Clinton’s $15 minimum-wage proposal, and that it’s a winner with most Americans — I mean, who doesn’t want a higher wage? So perhaps Mr. Trump’s ambiguity is intentional here, so independents and Democrats don’t tune him out.

I can’t fault him on that one.

Lastly, there’s been the issue of whether or not he’s going to self-fund.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, published on May 4, Mr. Trump said: “I’ll be putting up money, but won’t be completely self-funding, as I did during the primaries.”

On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the same day, he said: “We will probably take small contributions. I don’t want to have anybody have any influence over me, that I can tell you.”

Then later that evening, on NBC Nightly News, Mr. Trump said it was his goal to raise $1 billion in conjunction with the Republican National Committee. It’s a number that doesn’t seem very small.

Now, I personally, don’t care whether Mr. Trump self-finances. I like that he did so during the primary, but I understand that at least $1 billion will need to be raised to beat Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, in the fall, and I never expected him to personally put up that kind of cash. I appreciate that he recognizes the money that needs to be involved, and didn’t try to run his campaign on the cheap.

But there are others, who may not be as kind. Others who are attracted to both Mr. Trump and Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders’ independence from corporate interests. Mr. Trump doesn’t want to lose these potential swing voters and those within his own base who love that he’s not beholden to super PACs or large businesses. So maybe Mr. Trump is being intentionally muddy with the language he uses.

My understanding is he’s going to look for major, maxed-out donations, taking on a more traditional campaign finance infrastructure. But others may hear he’s still self-funding the majority of his campaign and is only looking for small $27 individual donations, like Mr. Sanders’ has been receiving. All of it maybe true, or none of it.

That’s the fun with Mr. Trump. Either he’s sloppy with his words, or he’s a master of them.

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