Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Will Trump's Political Gamble Pay off? Maybe It Already Has

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Will Trump's Political Gamble Pay off? Maybe It Already Has

Article excerpt

Whether Donald Trump's political moves turn out to be entertainment, a presidential candidacy, or a bit of both, the press attention offers him big payoffs - for now.

By testing the waters of a presidential run, Donald Trump is probably gaining financially even as he wins attention politically. At least so far.

That's the view of some analysts of US politics and culture, who say Mr. Trump's expanded media exposure - whatever his own motivations may be -comes with dollar signs attached. "It's a win- win situation," says Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, a University of Southern California expert on celebrities in US society. At best, the door keeps opening wider toward an improbable run for the White House in 2012. If that doesn't happen, she sees him reaping financial rewards, with rising visibility and a chance to cultivate a wider brand. "It's very hard to put a precise dollar sign to what happens to Trump's bank account," says Professor. Currid-Halkett, author of "Starstruck: The Business of Celebrity." But visibility on the political stage, "if used correctly, can create new lines of revenue and new entrepeneurial efforts."

His career already shows a drive in that direction, with a knack for parlaying name recognition as a real estate mogul into cash as an author and TV personality. ("Political Apprentice," anyone? Or maybe a political talk show?) Still, the audience ratings of Trump's current reality show, "Celebrity Apprentice," have sent mixed signals in recent weeks. They rose strongly after Trump began playing up his presidential aspirations earlier this year, but declined this month. Ratings can be influenced by many factors, of course, not just by headlines about The Donald wading into the "birther" controversy.

The potential downside

But some political analysts warn that Trump's foray into politics comes with risks to his brand. "There's an old axiom in presidential politics: You're never as popular as the day before you announce," says Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. After that comes closer scrutiny from the media, attacks from opponents, and even tough questions from ordinary voters. …

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