June 15, 2012 by Ben Donahower
Romney’s Unpredictable Surrogate – Donald Trump
Recently, several prominent Democrats have come out against President Obama’s ads attacking Mitt Romney’s relationship with Bain Capital, a private equity firm. For its part, the Obama campaign has defended its ads and have tried to bring these Democrats back in line with the campaign’s message. Surrogates are beneficial to campaigns, but they also come with some measure of risk. In the Romney camp, Donald Trump is their principle high risk, high reward surrogate.
Donald Trump is a clear surrogate for the Romney campaign. Last month Romney attended a fundraiser in Las Vegas hosted by Donald Trump where the Romney campaign offered a “Dine with Donald Trump and Mitt Romney” competition. In addition to Trump’s endorsement, it’s clear that his comments will reflect on the Romney campaign.
In fact, he’s already far afield from Mitt Romney’s campaign message. In a recent interview, he reasserted that President Obama was born in Kenya not in the United States. Surrogates can have an impact on the candidate himself, so rekindling the fire of the birther movement was certainly not in Romney’s plans and could hurt his campaign in the near term. While I believe surrogate faux pauxs will hurt campaigns, chances are the impact will be short-lived.
Finally, not only is there risk associated with Donald Trump the reach of an off message gaffe could be enormous since he is considering launching a super PAC to air anti-Obama ads. Trump told a Newsmax reporter of his potential plan while discussing a wide range of issues. While many media reports are about ordinarily spot on surrogates for the Obama campaign, the Romney campaign is playing with fire with at least one of their major surrogates.
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