Donald Trump is one of the most famous Republicans who has never formally entered the contest for the White House. The billionaire’s fame is built upon his success in business, not the empty celebrity and superficial policy advocacy one finds in the actors and musicians who gravitate toward President Obama’s campaign. That makes “the Donald” a formidable weapon in the GOP arsenal.
Mr. Trump doesn’t need money or votes, so he can say what he thinks without holding back. “Politicians are controlled by the lobbyists, whereas I’m not controlled about anybody,” the real-estate mogul said in a sit-down interview on Sunday. He was in Florida to accept the Statesman of the Year award from the Sarasota Republican Party. The businessman had planned on going to Tampa for the first day of the Republican National Convention on Monday, but tropical storm Isaac forced him to fly back early. He said he may return later in the week for a “surprise,” declining to elaborate on what the mysterious — though official — role might be.
The star of “Celebrity Apprentice” has become a vocal supporter and fundraiser for Mitt Romney. He’s urging the Republican nominee to fight fire with fire in the campaign. “Gov. Romney has to be extremely strong because the other side is not playing nice,” Mr. Trump insisted while he and his wife, Melania, prepared for the Sarasota event. “He can’t make the mistake of trying to be so politically correct that people don’t care.” He called the Obama campaign “vicious” and blamed the media for enabling the unfair tactics. “A lot of reporters are really dishonest people,” he told the 1,000 Republicans at the dinner. “You have some great ones, but you have some treacherous, terrible people.”
The entrepreneur’s focus is on the competitiveness of the U.S. economy in the global marketplace, which he says has become “a horror show.” Mr. Trump blamed Mr. Obama’s restrictions on energy production, environmental regulations and Obamacare. “It’s unbelievable how incompetently we are represented in this country,” he said. “The United States is way back. Unemployment is through the roof — this 8.3 percent is nonsense — it’s probably 21 percent. More than anything, what other countries are allowed to do to us, whether OPEC or China, is terrible.” He points to China’s currency manipulation and the unfair competitive advantage Chinese factories have over U.S. manufacturers, which are saddled with onerous regulations.
While some want to see Mr. Trump tapped as commerce secretary or even secretary of state in a Romney administration, he insists he will stick to business. He did admit, however, that there’s an appealing aspect to an official role: “You can tell the Chinese, ‘Folks, it’s over.’ ” America is well-served by having Donald Trump engaged in public life.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.