The Donald shot to the top of the Republican contenders for the 2012 Presidential election in a few short weeks. Clearly some shrewd marketing was in play.
Lesson One: In a weak competitive field, be aggressive. The competitors (some announced, some coyly un-announced to preserve their Rupert Murdoch paychecks) were struggling to get out of single digits in preference polls. These hapless hopefuls are less exciting than a nursing home breakfast menu, and Trump is, if nothing else, colorful and loud.
Lesson Two: Ready-Fire-Aim! Trump whipped up excitement by embracing the “birther” minority within a minority within a minority (Republicans >> Primary voters >> knuckle-draggers) who seem to have an important role to play in Iowa and South Carolina. He started with he-wasn’t-born-here, then to he didn’t go to the schools he said he went to, to he got unfair advantages from affirmative action, to he’s a Muslim, to he’s not smart enough. The last one is about as bizarre, and effective, as you get; I don’t think these rural white men can imagine what candlepower it takes to edit the Harvard Law Review. Probably Donald doesn’t know either, but the hostility strikes the right xenophobic note: the President is suspiciously non-white, so must be inauthentic. Trump hasn’t invoked visions of space aliens. Yet.
Lesson Three: Visibility first. By embracing the wildest charges, Trump was interviewed by every news outlet. Every one. Every.
Will Lesson Four be about short-term tactics not being a good long-term strategy? Too soon to say, but stay tuned.