COMMENTARY | Everything seemed to reach a peak of favorability for business mogul and reality show star Donald Trump on April 26. He was still toying with the idea of running for president, appearing in key primary states, making ambiguous comments about President Barack Obama’s certificate of live birth, and riding high in most polls about prospective Republican presidential candidates. But on April 27, President Obama released to the public a copy of his long-form certificate of live birth and recent subsequent polls have indicated that Trump is losing ground amongst his potential rivals, even though none seems to be able to gather enough support to break the 20 percent support level. And worse, many do not believe he is qualified to run the government.
A CNN/Opinion Research poll released on May 6 revealed that a majority of Americans believe the business tycoon is intelligent, is not a typical politician, is likeable, capable of handling a crisis and could possibly get the economy back on track. However, fewer of those same respondents believed he could handle the government (37 percent), is honest and trustworthy (34 percent), has the right presidential experience (27 percent), is in touch with the rest of American (26 percent) and shares the same values (24 percent).
Interestingly, the latter two categories — whether or not Trump was in touch with the rest of America and shared the same values — average out to 25 percent, which was the percentage of birthers in the U.S. as of February, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll released on April 21. (That number has fallen to 3 percent, according to a May Washington Post poll.)
Even among Republicans, Trump was beginning to catch criticism for his fringe views on pursuing whether or not the president’s Hawaiian birth certificate was authentic — a conspiracy theory that he revived shortly after announcing he might run for president. Many in the media, along with prominent Democrat and Republican politician, not to mention pundits were beginning to refer to Trump’s whirlwind media blitz as just another “sideshow” in a career that had thrived on publicity stunts, including two previous announcements of a possible presidential candidacy.
Rank and file Republicans seemed to be losing interest in the birth theory as well prior to the President’s posting of his birth certificate. A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling in February indicated 51 percent of Republicans who planned to vote in the primaries believed the president was born elsewhere. By the time of the CBS News/Times poll, that number had fallen to 45 percent.
But then the president, stating it was time to get away from petty distractions when there was important government business to take care of, was granted a copy of his long-form certificate of live birth from the state of Hawaii (a practice never allowed before, not to any citizen) to help quell the conspiracy theorists — and Trump.
Trump immediately made a statement that he was “honored” that he forced the president to produce the certificate, dodged reporters’ questions about the “interesting” findings of his own investigators that were supposedly pursuing the matter in Hawaii, and shifted to questioning whether or not President Obama was qualified to go to Columbia and Harvard. That caused a public backlash where more than a few wondered if Trump’s campaign was beginning to border on racism.
Just a few days later, Trump was targeted in a very humiliating public roasting by the President and event host “Saturday Night Live” comedian Seth Myers at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner. Most of the jokes centered around the birther allegations and Trump’s qualifications for president.
As for his standing in the polls of potential Republican candidates? A Gallup poll released the same day as the birth certificate revealed that 64 percent of Americans would definitely not vote for Trump for president in 2012. To make matters worse, a CNN/Opinion Research poll released on May 5 indicates Trump could also be slipping in his chances of becoming the 2012 GOP candidate. He trailed former Arkansas governor — and undeclared presidential candidate — Mike Huckabee by two points.
Donald Trump still maintains that he will announce whether or not he will run for president by June.