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The Donald adds an Obama-like spark to 2016 race

By Perry Munzwembiri

After years of “Obama-mania”, following President Barack Obama’s brilliance on the campaign trail, the 2016 White House race just needed something that would add the “X-factor” to the campaign. At first, it seemed Donald Trump brought the “Y-factor” — as in — why is he even running for president? Every day, however, the world is being treated to generous helpings of his blunt and direct character that is adding that “X-factor” to the 2016 presidential race after all.

Obama, often touted as the man who brought back “sexy” to politics, is sinking more and more into oblivion as his presidency draws to an end. Be that as it may, as one of his legacies, Obama leaves his adeptness on the campaign trail and remarkable oratory skills, having led a well-oiled campaign machine and secured two presidential terms. He provided a positive and interesting dimension to the presidential races of 2008 and 2012.

Donald Trump certainly cannot be compared to Barack Obama. For one, Trump’s background in the corporate world and Obama’s background in public service make these two individuals distinctly different. While Obama has long been criticised as indecisive and weak when it comes to foreign policy, Trump portrays himself as the exact opposite. Where Obama has chosen a path of quiet diplomacy and modest force in the troubled Middle East, Trump sees only one way of addressing the threat of Islamist militants — for instance, “Bomb the hell out of them!” What Trump lacks in the way of tact, he certainly makes up for in confidence and forthrightness. Those who wondered if the 2016 race would have anything unique and exciting are in for a treat, courtesy of Mr Trump.

His entrance into the race for the White House in 2016 has provided that added spark to what would otherwise have been a reversion into the old, dull and boring abyss that could be politics post-Obama. Here is the thing though, for someone who listens to Trump, follows him closely in the media or even watched him on his reality television show The Apprentice, it is that little bit more difficult to take him seriously politically.

It is not that there is anything that really disqualifies him from being the typical presidential candidate. Every time he opens his mouth to speak, though, it seems like he is intentionally trying to sabotage his own campaign.

“The Donald”, as he is now affectionately called — a nickname perpetuated by the media after his first wife, Ivana Trump, a native of the Czech Republic, referred to him as such in an interview — earlier this year asserted that Mexican immigrants to the United States are rapists and drug dealers, much to the obvious chagrin of Hispanics in the country.

And Trump seems to be the gift that keeps on giving as, more recently, he dominated the headlines after saying that former presidential candidate John McCain is only considered a war hero because he had been captured as a prisoner of war. This did not sit well with American war veterans or his fellow Republican candidates, with the latter taking off their gloves and coming all out with scathing attacks on him.

Interestingly, while it appears like he is doing himself a disservice by his controversial comments, the outcome could not be any further from that. The latest poll of Republican presidential candidates places Donald Trump ahead of 16 other Republican candidates, with 18% of likely Republican primary voters saying they would vote for the billionaire candidate.

Although still early, that Trump enjoys this much support shows that his stance on immigration reform, foreign policy and other key national issues resonates with some GOP members. Whether he has the staying power to leverage that primary support and secure a Republican nomination is an entirely different story, however.

Perry Munzwembiri is a freelance writer based in Zimbabwe, focusing mostly on politics, business and economics. Blog: Carte Blanche with Perry. Twitter: @PMunzwembiri

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