How do you solve a problem like Donald Trump?
Between various Twitter wars and taunting Arizona Sen. John McCain, outspoken GOP presidential hopeful Trump continues to stand taller and speak even louder.
Case in point is this past weekend, when the reality TV star steadfastly refused to rule out a White House run as a third-party candidate if (or when) he loses the 2016 nomination.
At part of an immense Republican field, others see Trump as more an annoyance than a serious contender – an aggravation that (hopefully) would, with time, lose momentum and go away.
But for now, the billionaire real-estate mogul is full-steam-ahead, bolstered by a post-announcement boost in the polls putting him in the top tier.
While Democrats revel over the Trump sideshow, this should be of great concern to Republicans; and for good reason.
Here are a few considerations to guide thinking on Trump and his future as a candidate.
Imagine you’re a presidential contender, and want remove Trump completely from the race. The alternative is truly frightening: Trump losing a primary, only to pull a Ross Perot by self-funding, eventually skimming off 10 percent of the Republican vote as an independent.
By the time of primaries, it would be too late – the damage will already be done.
The process of “taking him out” must begin now.
Trump has already struck a match, lighting the fuse that leads to self-immolation.
Competitors need to press that advantage.
One way is by convincing the press to stop giving Trump a free pass as he provides an otherwise dry political race a good deal of entertainment. The strategy is to take Trump seriously, examine his record and the overwhelming backlog of stupid statements he’s made over the years.
The endgame is to deflate the Trump gasbag; marginalize him with voters to the point where he gets zero support.
Even a hint of backing will trigger Trump’s massive ego, and his narcissism could very well give him the incentive to run as an independent.
So, one good bet will be this: Watch for other campaigns to stop giving Trump a pass. Look for them to ramp up oppo research, and eviscerate Trump behind the scenes.
Facing a crumbling base, Trump’s interest in running will quickly evaporate, leaving him little choice but to fade to black.