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The Art Of The Wheedle: Donald Trump's Genius Business Plan For The GOP

The GOP, bless its tiny, cold heart, has bought into Trump's logic

The best news for Hillary Clinton on Thursday arguably wasn't Obama's endorsement, but Donald Trump's delusional message to a group of GOP donors.

It's difficult to parse out what's most delightfully audacious about this assertion! Is it that Chris Christie, one of the most unpopular governors in the history of the state, could deliver New Jersey to a candidate, any candidate? Is it that Trump could turn Maryland red, a state that has gone for the GOP just 12 times since the party came to exist? Is it that he has his sights set on California, where Latinos make up 28 percent of eligible voters? No, wait, it's this: Taken together, those states contain or abut five of the most expensive media markets in the country — Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Philadelphia, and New York City — and Donald Trump has pretty much declared that traditional fundraising is for suckers.

If Trump forces the Republican Party to compete for votes in those states while simultaneously insisting he doesn't need to do anything to help pay for those insane ambitions, he'll bankrupt the organization, just as surely as he has bankrupted himself four times previously, pursuing similarly misguided schemes.

Since 2008, the going rate for a presidential campaign has approached $1 billion, an obscene sum that should raise all kinds of questions about the role of money in politics — none of which are, "Is it really that expensive?" Running for president is expensive! And last week, as the candidate's overt racism finally became concerning to some people, even other Republicans, fundraisers for the GOP wondered aloud if Trump's bombast would be an obstacle to the opening of wallets on the right.

"He isn't personally loved by most of the Republican donors," one of them told Politico. "When he comes out with these crazy things, like with the judge, people just want to turn off."

Trump countered in an interview with Bloomberg: "There’s no reason to raise that [much money]. I just don't think I need nearly as much money as other people need because I get so much publicity. I get so many invitations to be on television. I get so many interviews, if I want them."

He does get interviews, for sure! Interviews on shows such as Morning Joe and Fox & Friends are what propelled his primary campaign, because those are the kinds of shows that primary voters watch. Indeed, they're the kind of shows only primary voters watch. But Trump is no longer running a primary campaign. The few hundred thousand here, few hundred thousand there in cable news die-hards won't count for much when you're courting the vote of the entire country. (For perspective: MSNBC's Morning Joe has just over 650K viewers; NBC's The Today Show has over 4M viewers.) It's also not clear that Trump is going to be as welcome on cable news as he once was: Lately, the networks have developed something resembling either shame or a spine, and are less slavishly devoted to covering his every spontaneous brain fart and racist performance happening.

In the business world, Trump jumped blithely from one opportunistic branding venture to the next using the pole vault of generous bankruptcy laws, a system he seems to think he can apply to the country as a whole as well as a presidential race. The GOP, bless its tiny, cold heart, has bought into Trump's logic.

In declaring his intent to push the GOP into futile spending battles, Trump is creating the same kind of fanciful business plan for the Republican Party that he has put forward a dozen times, applying to a political institution what didn't work for steaks or planes or mortgages or vodka or water: (1) Attach his name to a failing property. (2) Rely on extensive free publicity based on his own outsize personality and the Pavlovian media response. (3) There is no step three.

And that plus $35,000 will get you a Trump University degree.