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If you’re in the market for a Republican presidential candidate who wants to start a trade war with China, thinks there’s a causal link between vaccines and autism, believes there’s no need for entitlement reform, and led the charge on the birther movement, today’s your lucky day: As Johnny Dubya notes below, Donald Trump — probably the only candidate in this field who spent his announcement speech noodling on the state of America’s ‘brand’ — is now officially in the race.
Now, it’s easy enough to dismiss Trump as a sideshow. As Reid Epstein and Heather Haddon note in their report on the announcement in the Wall Street Journal, NBC is still going forward on the assumption that Trump will tape the new season of Celebrity Apprentice in the fall — something he can’t do if he’s an active candidate — which may mean that he’s just taking his quadrennial exercise in publicity-seeking to new lengths. Either way, Republicans are still going to have to deal with the fact that every asinine utterance that comes out of the bloated gourd atop his shoulders will be gleefully seized upon by the Left and the media as evidence of the fundamental unseriousness of the GOP. They’ll also have to reckon with this:
Mr. Trump is likely to qualify for the Republican National Committee-sanctioned presidential debates, which Fox News and CNN have limited to candidates who place in the top 10 in national polling.
With his broad name recognition, he has received between 3% and 5% support in recent national polls, enough to qualify for the Aug. 6 Fox News debate. Candidates such as former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) may not make the cut. Also in jeopardy of exclusion is Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive and the only prominent woman in the GOP contest.
Could there be a more depressing thought for the GOP than Carly Fiorina — a woman who’s recently become the pacesetter for how Republicans should handle themselves with the media — sitting at home while Trump uses a presidential forum to pimp a 30-year-old book?
Here’s the question: what, if anything, does the GOP do? Leave it alone and count on Trump to expose himself as a buffoon in the debates? Try to find a way to keep him out? Does an enterprising candidate try to put points on the board by sticking it to The Donald onstage (paging Chris Christie)?
What would you do?