Bloomberg, Schultz and others can’t repeat Trump’s White House win

Bloomberg, Schultz and others can’t repeat Trump’s White House win
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My former boss Bob Dole, still a friend, stressed to me: “Running for president and winning the White House is very hard work.”

That observation may be more true now that Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE won in 2016 by turning his back on traditional campaigning, doing it his way, and making an army of political pros and pundits from both sides of the divide look foolish and irrelevant in the process. Now, a number of wealthy businessmen and not-ready-for-prime-time politicians have convinced themselves they can replicate the Trump feat.    


They can’t. Trump’s election as president was lightning in a bottle; no one will duplicate it in our lifetimes.    

His election was a primal scream of desperation by besieged, hardworking voters convinced that the Democratic and Republican parties had long since given up on them and their concerns.    

Tens of millions of Americans, united by common fears and worsening financial and quality-of-life realities, pulled their arms back as far as possible and fired a Hail Mary pass into the end zone hoping that the real estate developer from New York City who was making fun of the political process would catch it and save them from the entrenched political elites.   

Because Trump did catch the pass, the egos of a number of uber-wealthy businessmen, coupled with the starry-eyed dreams of some relatively unknown politicians, quickly kicked into high gear.    

We have seen interest in running for president expressed by the likes of former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, Disney CEO Bob Iger, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, and now, wealthiest of them all, Michael Bloomberg.    

No matter what their public reasoning may be for talking about or exploring a possible presidential run in 2020, their thinking is:  “If that reality-star wannabe Trump can get elected, I can certainly win.”    

No, you can’t.   

That is not to say that Schultz, Iger, Cuban, Dimon or Bloomberg aren’t sincere or don’t have valid policies, arguments and experience. They most certainly do.    

Rather, it’s to say that they have zero understanding as to why Trump was elected. Again, his win was historic, and non-repeatable.

Like it or not, admit it or not, Trump won only because of Trump. He shredded a deep Republican bench in the primary and then defeated the darling of the media, entertainment and academia — Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAs Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Harris rips Gabbard over Fox appearances during Obama years Steyer, Gabbard and Yang shut out of early minutes of Democratic debate MORE — in the general.

Two months after his June 2015 announcement that he would run — and amid the snickering and insults directed at Trump — I had my first “canary in the coal mine” moment regarding the viability of his campaign.    

A liberal friend from my home state of Massachusetts reached out to me to say: “You know, this Trump guy is starting to make some sense to me.” That same week, an ultra-conservative Christian friend from Florida called to say precisely the same thing.

Why? These friends had two things in common: They lived paycheck-to-paycheck, and both felt abandoned by their respective political parties.

As the weeks and months went on, I spoke with more and more voters between the coasts, from both political parties, who echoed the same complaints and fears.

Soon, a critical mass of voters — either missed or deliberately ignored by the mainstream media and establishment politicos — collectively decided to take a chance on Trump.

Several weeks before the election, after factoring in these firsthand voter accounts, results from the 2012 election, and several verbal gaffes by Clinton, I emailed media friends to say: “Trump is for sure going to get 286 electoral votes, but I believe it will be 306 because he’s going to win Pennsylvania.”

My prediction was mostly met with laughter and denial.

That’s not to say that I had any special skill in political prognostication as it is to say it’s counterproductive, foolish and even unethical to ignore — for partisan, ideological or personal feelings — the thoughts, opinions and fears of real Americans.

Whether they liked him personally or not, these Americans in 2016 found something “authentic” about Donald Trump. A continually morphing X factor resonated with them, at the right moment in time, to get him elected.

It’s an X factor that will not be replicated by any of the businessman trying to reach the last rung of the “I accomplished everything” ladder of life.

Trump emerged from the “Un-Party” of politics. Most of the businessmen kicking around the idea of running for president are either closely aligned with the Democratic Party, lack Trump’s X factor, or both.

Running for president and winning the White House is very hard work indeed. With his victory, Trump did not create a template for wealthy business leaders to emulate. He created a shockingly unique strategy designed to elect one person: Donald Trump.    

Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration.