Trump’s Best Counter-Punch: Infomercials
If you were of voting age in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s you will remember Ross Perot’s presidential bid and his famous political infomercials. And if you research the story of how Ross Perot became a successful third party presidential candidate in the 1992 election you may find some similarities with Donald Trump’s persona and campaign.
While I’m not a big fan of Wikipedia, it does serve to succinctly recount an accurate story of Ross Perot’s presidential bid.
That being said, Ross Perot made it known that he thought America was economically faltering and needed someone with real business acumen to turn things around and get it on the right path. Ross Perot made it clear that he was that “someone” America needed to turn things around. Sound like Donald Trump?
Perot made headway with the American people by using media outlets like Larry King and other talk shows, which gave Perot an uninterrupted TV platform to make his case to the people. This exposure spawned a “draft Perot” movement to help Perot position himself as a legitimate third party candidate. Unlike Trump, who went the conventional political party rout in a primary, Perot needed to have his name added to the presidential ballot in all 50 states to be able to compete on somewhat equal footing as both national party candidates.
Perot was met by strong opposition among mostly Republican operatives who feared his candidacy would do more harm to then President Bush than his Democrat opponent Bill Clinton – which played out exactly that way and essentially put Clinton in the White House.
As happened with Trump, Perot attracted many newcomers to the political scene and said he would finance his own campaign. And as also with Trump, Perot was attacked by Republican establishment figures like Karl Rove who called Perot an “untested wild man” and vice president Dan Quale who called Perot a "temperamental tycoon." Political newcomers, a self-financed campaign, and Republican establishment attacks on Perot’s campaign is another big similarity between Trump and Perot.
Early on, opposition attacks and gaffs made by Perot began to have serious negative effects on Perot’s efforts. His own campaign staff was becoming “disillusioned” by falling poll numbers and Perot was exhibiting sign of paranoia by having his volunteers sign “loyalty oaths.” Some of Perot’s former advisors said that Perot did not want "to spend money on things that mattered" and that he “was ‘obsessed’ with his image.” Sounding like Trump more and more.
This all led to Perot announcing on Larry King that he would not seek the presidency. However, Perot’s decision to drop out was short lived as he made a decision to re-enter the presidential race; but this time he had a different campaign strategy. This is where Donald Trump’s handlers should take notice if they want to have any chance of winning the election.
Ross Perot decided to get his message out via “paid advertising.” Perot bought two half-hour timeslots on a major network. This strategy allowed Perot to speak directly to the American people on a major network for an extended period of time without outside distractions. Perot took the time to answer his critics while laying out a clear plan for America’s future. This strategy had never before – or since – been used by a presidential candidate. Political experts called this strategy “groundbreaking.”
After participating in the three presidential debates Perot bought two more thirty minute spots which aired on two different networks and he purchased another thirty minute spot close to Election Day which aired on all three networks.
All-in-all, Perot blanketed the network airways with his infomercial messages which resulted in a first ever third party candidate getting almost 20 million votes and 18.9 percent of the presidential vote.
Did Perot win? No he didn’t. But Ross Perot sure proved that if you want to compete against two national parties and a willing accomplice media you need to find a way to both answer your critics and get your message out to the American people. The up-side to Perot’s election results is that Trump is not a third party candidate and has a far greater chance of winning than Perot ever did.
After the release of a video with Donald Trump saying some very derogatory things about women in a private conversation Donald Trump should consider buying several 30 minute slots on all major networks as infomercials designed to answer his critics and reiterate his message to make America great again. This is important because even after doing well in last night’s debate it can only be expected that the media will continue to attack trump over the video and ignore everything negative about Hillary and muddle anything positive about Trump’s message for America. These infomercials would generate a huge media buzz, and because Hillary is essentially going to remain off the campaign trail until Election Day, Trump could dominate the media TV airwaves with his message down the election stretch.
Donald Trump simply can’t expect to answer his critics in a debate setting or with 30 second commercials or in one-sided interviews with the liberal media. And forget about the liberal media letting America hear what Trump intends to say at his rallies or on his social media. As far as the liberal media goes, Trump is dead to them now and will be until Election Day.
My suggestion for Donald Trump to make several infomercials and get them aired as quickly as possible.
Trump can have his wife and daughters by his side in the first segment of his first infomercial, giving America their perspective of Donald as a loyal husband, father and grandfather while emphasizing the positive “change” he has gone through in recent years. In the second segment of that first infomercial Trump can show America exactly who Hillary Clinton is with highlight all her lies and failures as a status-quo politician. And finally in the last segment of that first infomercial Trump can focus on his overall plans to make America great again. Trump’s second infomercial can focus on the economy and putting Americans first and making the economy great again. His third infomercial should focus on foreign affairs and making America safe and strong again. And as Ross Perot did after his infomercials aired, Trump should follow-up his infomercials with one minute commercial spots referencing those infomercials and pointing out the real choice Americans have to make on Election Day.
If anyone in the Trump campaign is out there listening – this may be your only chance to win this election.