Donald Trump was the guest on the Piers Morgan show on CNN last night. I almost didn't watch it, because my reaction to Trump is, well, not good. He has always come across to me as an arrogant, boorish, New York rich guy, with bad hair.
But the promo of the show made it clear that Trump was possibly running for President, so, with my interest in politics, I watched it. And I'm glad I did.
Trump reminds me of another eccentric wealthy businessman, Ross Perot. Perot ran on a third-party ticket in 1992, against G.H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and he won 19% of the vote that year, a huge number. Being in my opinion somewhat more charismatic than Perot, Trump could appeal to the country as a straight talker who is also a kind of economic nationalist. Meaning that he would economically confront China much more directly than any other candidate has been willing to, in an attempt to address the unfair trade situation which has hollowed out America's industry. Trump comes across as very concerned about American jobs, and seems more willing to do something about it, in his hard-nosed, businessman kind of way.
Trump also came across as well-informed on international and economic issues, more than I would have suspected from my previous exposure to him. He also impresses one as a leader with an independent mind, willing to take tough stands. People like that kind of thing, especially when times are bad. Finally, he is wealthy enough to afford to run.
Having said all of the above, there are any number of obstacles and booby traps that could trip him up. But my first impression is that he could be another Ross Perot, a spoiler who, though he may not be able to win, could make the 2012 campaign a very interesting and uncertain prospect for Obama and whoever ends up running on the Republican side.