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Unsolicited Advice for Donald Trump

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

It's official. Donald Trump announced he's running for the Republican nomination for president for a third time. And far be it for me to give advice to a man who is already defied the naysayers and critics and won that nomination the last two times out, but I'm a columnist, damn it, and if I can't give advice to a candidate for president that he's bound to ignore and never even see then what the heck's the point?

But, even more significant, I'm a Republican voter. And I have a hunch that my advice here... reflects the concerns and beliefs of many of my fellow Republican voters. 

And let me be clear... I have been a supporter of the president since he ran in 2016, when he was in office, and when he ran again in 2020. I've been a supporter of his post-presidency as well. And I recognize that this president has many enemies who have been trying to undermine, diminish, and even destroy him since the day he announced seven years ago.

My advice for the president does not come from a place of malice and is not embedded in a secret desire to see his defeat. I am merely a Republican who wants to see our party nominate the best person to defeat the Democrats in 2024.

The fact is, we have a divided Republican Party, and we have a divided nation. I suspect that on policies, President Trump isn't going to differ much from the other Republican candidates for the nomination. Except for Larry Hogan, but let's face it, he doesn't have much of a chance, does he? 

So if most of the candidates are the same on policy, then it comes down to effectiveness; which person can achieve the two things laid out in front of them: to win the general election in 2024 and unite the party and nation to achieve the policies that will heal our nation.

Okay then…here we go with the advice.

First... Don't act like you're entitled to the nomination. I've heard from a lot of people within Trump's inner circle that he believes he should be treated as the incumbent president. And it would be disloyal for other Republicans to challenge him for the nomination.

It appears that Trump believes that since he was denied the presidency in 2020 and he's still eligible for a second term, and because he wants that second term, other potential nominees should defer to him and wait until 2028.

The problem with this is obvious on multiple levels. First off, let's say he gets the nomination by acclimation, and he doesn't win in 2024. What's stopping him from making the exact same claim four years later? How long is the Republican Party supposed to step back and defer to President Trump on this issue? If it logically and strategically makes sense in 2024, why wouldn't it logically and strategically make sense years from now?

It's just flawed thinking. 

And Republican voters don't like the idea of anyone thinking that they are entitled to anything. If President Trump wants the nomination, he needs to earn it. And if other Republican leaders believe they can make a better case to Republican voters to earn that nomination, why shouldn't they have the opportunity to make that case?

Let's not forget that in 2008, Hillary Clinton felt entitled to the nomination, and Barack Obama dared to challenge her. She took it as a personal insult. The two had a ruthless primary season and fought for that nomination until the very last primary state. After Obama won, he was able to bring his party together and win the general election because both candidates saw the value in getting that done.

If President Trump truly does love the Republican Party and the principles the party was built on, he will embrace the opportunity to win votes over his rivals based on those ideas that he puts forth.

And that leads us to advice number two... attack Democrats, attack Joe Biden, attack Gavin Newsom, attack socialism, attack the swamp, attack the failed Marxist policies of the totalitarian left... don't attack fellow Republicans. 

Especially since Republicans running against you in the primary, for the most part, will be individuals that worked for you in your Cabinet or worked with you as members of the House, Senate, or as governors. Don't undermine the men and women who helped your administration achieve great things and share your principles and ideals.

And the final bit of advice…. Don't forget that this is not about you. This is about the American people. This is about giving voice to people who have felt unheard for way too long.

I think President Trump already gets this. It was his strength in 2016 and during much of his presidency, and it's seeped out in much of his announcement at Mar-a-Lago earlier this week.

But, let's face it, all too often, President Trump lets slip his understandable and natural inclination to talk about himself and to frame his campaign and his political issues from a personal and sometimes even narcissistic perspective.

The moment during his speech when he went off the prompter and declared himself a victim was possibly the worst moment of the entire one-hour presentation. Donald Trump was president of the United States and was standing in a multi-million dollar, ornate, gold-trimmed ballroom of his own personal mansion. Calling himself a victim... not a good look.

Even if he feels like a victim. Indeed, even if by any objective measure he has been a victim of persecution by the Deep State and the misuse of the Justice Department, the FBI, and Nancy Pelosi's House of Representatives, it's the American people who are the real victims here. And that's how he needs to frame any discussion of the coordinated political attacks he has endured.

The moment he feels inclined to present himself as a victim, he needs to shift the perspective to the voters… to the American people.

He needs to say, "Donald Trump wasn't persecuted by the Justice Department, Donald Trump wasn't attacked by Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff, Donald Trump wasn't undermined by the FBI. The American people were attacked, persecuted, and undermined by those powerful forces."

Every time they tried to stop and destroy Donald Trump, they were really trying to stop and destroy the agenda that the American people voted for.

If he can do these things. If he can make this campaign about the American people and focus his brilliant ability for political assault on Democrats rather than his fellow Republicans, if he cannot feel personally wounded and betrayed by his fellow Republican leaders wanting to vie for the American people's support... if he can do all this, then he has a great shot of not just winning the nomination but winning the presidency.


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