The Keystone Cop Candidate

Trump’s VP announcement has been a mess.

This is how Donald Trump made the announcement this morning about his vice presidential pick:

But let’s back up a moment and take a look at how we got there.

First of all, the rumors were flying yesterday that Pence would be his choice. Apparently that didn’t sit well with the candidate.

NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell has more reporting here: “Sources tell me that Donald Trump was watching news coverage from his Beverly Hills home Thursday and was described as surprised and ‘irritated’ that leaks were identifying Gov. Pence as his choice early in the day.”

That’s not the story they want getting out there, so they came up with another one. While the plan had been to announce the choice today, Trump said he was going to wait – possibly until the Convention in Cleveland. Here is how his campaign manager, Paul Manafort, explained that:

“He was moved by what happened last night. It affected him and emotionally, the carnage like Paris and the idea that this is just nonstop and seems to be happening quicker and quicker in more and more places was bothersome and he thought it was totally inappropriate in the aftermath of that tragedy to do something even as important as what he was going to do this morning. So he said he wanted to just take a little time. It wasn’t a matter of taking time to rethink things; it was a matter of taking a little time” to honor the people affected.

Then this morning, Trump tweeted the announcement up above. To make matters worse, now we hear this:

The campaign had two jobs this month. One was to roll out their VP nomination. We’ve seen how they handled that. The other is to plan the Republican Convention. It isn’t going any better.

Remember when we heard that the speakers were going to be people like Mike Ditka and Mike Tyson? Not gonna happen. Then this week all the chatter was about Tim Tebow having a speaking slot. Here he is saying, “No can do.”

Beyond speakers, the convention is apparently short on cash due to the exit of so many major corporate sponsors. So the host committee had to go hat in hand to Sheldon Adelson for a $6 million bailout.

But never fear – the Trump campaign has planned some jam-packed theme nights for the convention. They’ll devote the first night to rehashing the spell-binding story of how Hillary Clinton is responsible for the Benghazi attack and then a prime-time presentation on Bill Clinton’s sexual history. That should go over real well with parents of young children. Has a political convention ever gotten a PG-13 rating? Overall, Josh Marshall sums it up really well.

In so many words, the Trump convention is aimed not at building a broader coalition but on a relentless hammering of the things that get the base of the Republican party – roughly 20% of the electorate most fired up. Just as Trump’s campaign has been a paean to White Christian America and rumblings for revenge at its passing, the 2016 GOP convention seems set to cast its eye backwards, a bridge to the 19th century.

Maybe Josh is being too hard on the Trump campaign, though. I really don’t think they’re building a bridge to the 19th century. It’s more like the early 20th century – when the Keystone Cops were all the rage. Seriously…tell me this clip doesn’t remind you of the Trump campaign.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.