If there’s one thing Donald Trump seems to enjoy the most about his foray into politics, it’s been the opportunity to speak before massive crowds of adoring fans who boost his insatiable ego. So in that sense today’s news comes as a surprise: he’s suddenly canceling a slew of public campaign rallies across several states. This won’t help his odds of winning, and he knows it. I think I know what he’s up to.
It’s true that the giant rallies haven’t been helping Trump’s cause. They’re a giant waste of time and money and personnel, and as history has shown us, they don’t translate to votes. So it’s not a surprise that even as he’s been holding big rallies, he’s fallen out of contention in the election.
But if Trump were looking to turn things around, he’d be canceling his big rallies in favor of more intimate events which tend to attract the kind of influencers who can then go out and win over outsiders. Even as he’s made fun of Hillary Clinton for her smaller and more targeted crowd sizes, she’s been using those events to beat him. Trump isn’t going in that direction, however.
The key to what he’s really up to appears to lie in the fact that even as he’s begun blowing off so many of his upcoming big public rallies, he’s still planning to travel to those cities and hold private fundraisers. Those meetings can help fund a campaign and would make political sense if they were also being held alongside some form of public events. But when you step off the public side of the campaign trail, you’re no longer trying to win. And any potential donors can see that his collapsing schedule means he’s no longer trying to win.
So this cannot be a strategy for trying to get donations for his campaign. Instead he’s now merely traveling the country and meeting privately with wealthy people who already know he’s not trying to win. Couple this shift in schedule along with his decision this week to hand control of his campaign over to an extremist conservative political site while also bringing on the head of Fox News, and it sure looks like he’s using the rest of the campaign season to set up a post-election media venture.
It makes sense, of course. He’s already seen by now that he can’t compete in the general election by doing it his way or by doing it the old fashioned way, which means he’s likely to lose, and even he has to know it by now. His best way of saving face is to use the final eighty days of the election to set up his next business venture, and more specifically, set up one which panders directly to the angry conservative extremists he’s spent the past year winning over.
Admittedly, I’m just trying to fit the increasingly strange pieces of Donald Trump’s campaign strategy together in a way that makes sense, and this is the only way I can figure that they might even fit together. I’ll be looking to see how many more public campaign rallies Trump blows off over the next month, even while continuing to travel to meet privately with wealthy people in those cities, as an indicator of whether he truly is forfeiting an election he can’t win for the sake of setting up his next logical move into extremist media outlets.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report