A Trump 2016 bid would no doubt make his business bona fides a cornerstone of his campaign. While that strategy didn't pan out for Mitt Romney, it may be an easier sell for Trump, who apparently is much more successful, as far as his personal wealth goes: According to The Des Moines Register in Iowa, his claim that he has "a Gucci store that's worth more than Romney" is actually true.
"He's built a business where he's had to manage people, he's had to control a budget, he's had to deal with ups and downs of doing business," said Peter Radloff, a financial services executive from Los Angeles and ardent Trump supporter. "He knows what it takes to create something and build it to a level of success."
But while the economy is the top concern for Republican voters, foreign policy and the threat of terrorism come in a close second, according to a Pew poll from last year. Supporters say they don't view Trump's lack of diplomatic experience as a disadvantage, pointing to President Obama's relative inexperience on world affairs before he got to the White House, as well as governors in the GOP primary field.
In foreign policy and otherwise, it'll help that he's an authentic, "no-nonsense guy" who speaks his mind, Kiger said. And that farcical, decidedly unpresidential character he plays on "The Apprentice"? It's just that, Radloff says: an exaggerated caricature shrewdly designed to boost ratings.
"That's a role that obviously has turned into a financial juggernaut for him and his corporation. And that's fine; he's astute at developing that," he said. "I think there's more to him than that."
But just the same has been said about his role as perennial presidential contender. In 2011, The New York Times pointed out that whenever Trump "hinted" at a White House run, ratings rose on "Celebrity Apprentice."
The sundry Republican primary cast often draw comparisons between "Washington insiders" and the interests of the real people they'd represent, touting the broad but effective message that "Washington is broken." To supporters, Trump is one of the few candidates who not only hasn't worked in Washington, but also hasn't been stained by political life. His decades running successful businesses, they say, have prepared him much better for the role of the country's chief executive.
Corey Lewandowski, Trump's senior political adviser who most recently ran voter registration at the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity, puts it this way: "People want a business person. They're tired of politics as usual.
"They want someone who can actually get the economy moving again," he said. "They want someone who's actually created jobs, and does projects on time and on budget, and is not all talk and no action."
But in his recent flirtations with the White House, it's Trump that's been all talk. In the 2000, 2004 and 2008 cycles, he expressed interest in running as a third-party candidate a la Ross Perot. At the apex of his public skepticism about Obama's citizenship status, in 2012, he launched a more extensive media storm, setting a date for a presidential announcement before signing on for another season of "The Apprentice" instead.