Donald Trump has reemerged as part of the presidential campaign this past week by resurrecting the question of President Obama’s citizenship and birthplace, while Mitt Romney began offering a meeting with the real-estate investor as an enticement for campaign donations. Thus, presumably to Trump’s delight, he was again a topic of discussion on this week’s Sunday shows.
On ABC’s This Week, George Will eagerly entered the debate, saying he “[does] not understand the cost-benefit here. The costs are clear. The benefit: What voter is going to vote for [Romney] because he is seen with Donald Trump? The cost of appearing with this bloviating ignoramus is obvious it seems to me.”
Will continued his excoriation of the tycoon, lamenting that “Donald Trump is redundant evidence that if your net worth is high enough, your IQ can be very low and you can still intrude into American politics,” to the general agreement of the rest of the guests. Jennifer Granholm, once governor of Michigan and now a host on Current TV, offered one possible explanation, expressing her “nefarious belief” that Romney is teeing up Trump and his conspiracy theories as an issue on which he can rebuke his base, in order to reassure moderate voters.
Later, on NBC’s Meet the Press, Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne Jr. was eager to raise the topic, too, arguing that Romney should “put out some very very clear statement” dissociating himself from Trump’s birtherism. But Dionne also argued, contra Granholm, that Romney’s embrace of Trump is part and parcel of his strategy of not picking fights with the base. That is, Romney “hasn’t distanced himself from the extreme right on anything,” and so one would hardly expect him to do so regarding Trump or the birther issue. Dionne lamented that there used to be “a balance in conservatism,” and a respect for “consensual politics,” the absence of which he sees in issues from the Republican primary process to Wisconsin’s Democrat-prompted recall election.