Is it embarrassing to be a friend of Donald Trump? That must be the question the Romney campaign is currently pondering. Instead of dominating the airwaves with his victory in the Texan primary, Mitt Romney found himself in the uncomfortable position yesterday of responding to questions about his pal Donald Trump while both were on stage at a Las Vegas fundraiser.
“The Donald” resurrected yesterday the now widely discredited red herring that the President was not born in the United States. Before appearing with Romney at the fundraiser, The Donald took to the airwaves and told CNN “a lot of people don’t think it was an authentic (birth) certificate.” Sounding like a conspiracy theorist claiming the lunar landing never happened, he added, “CNN won’t report it but many people do not believe it was authentic.”
Trump just raised over $600,00 for Romney and is now working on another $300,000. His fund raising efforts clearly matter but Trump’s ongoing nuttiness about Obama’s birth certificate could potentially blow Romney’s campaign off course. Conservative columnist George Will described Trump as a “bloviating ignoramus” on weekend television while Romney supporters are wondering what the Trump association serves, with one commenting in yesterday’s NY times, “once you get past Trump’s hair there is no substance.”
The PR verdict: “C” for Team Romney doing its best to keep Trump at a polite distance. Romney via his team has said he has no issue with the President’s birthplace. Further cold shouldering might bring the Donald into line.
PR Takeaway: ”Cold and Dignified” is sometimes the best PR approach. Avoiding photo ops with The Donald and giving only strictly timed sound bites with the self styled mogul is a good idea. To dilute appearances of a close friendship, insist next time that any appearance with Romney and the Donald includes other celebrity supporters being interviewed at the same time. While The Donald’s fundraising helps, a close PR association doesn’t. This is one case where some polite distance is called for.
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