The controversial campaign of Donald Trump throughout summer 2015 is just one of the highlights of a four-month period laden with controversies, scandals, tragedies and events that changed the United States.
It all began simply enough with speculation throughout the first few months of the year that Trump would formally declare himself a Republican candidate for presidency in 2016. However, once Trump announced his candidacy two days after his birthday on June 16, the 69-year-old chairman of Trump Organization found himself walking the fine line between delusional novelty act and astute opportunist.
During his formal declaration, Trump immediately ignited a firestorm of controversy with his ignorant, slanderous statements towards Mexican immigrants, claiming most of them were rapists and criminals while very few were decent people. The week after the comments were made, several organizations like Macy’s, Univision and NASCAR severed business ties with Trump, while NBC announced that the presidential candidate would no longer host their long running reality series The Celebrity Apprentice.
If history has shown us anything, it is that many major figures who get caught saying something offensive run to the nearest camera they can find to apologize to the public and begin damage control. With Trump, he has done the exact opposite; instead of apologizing, Trump has stood by his claims, later vowing that he would build a “great, big wall” on the Mexican border and boasting that Mexico would pay for it.
The hubris parade only gained momentum with Trump’s appearance at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa where he targeted fellow Republican and Arizona Senator John McCain by claiming that McCain, who spent five and a half years as a North Vietnamese prisoner during the Vietnam War, was not a real war hero. Trump then went on to slam McCain for his lack of action in aiding war veterans, claiming to be “very disappointed in John McCain.”
These comments justifiably gained Trump the ire of his fellow Republicans and just about anyone with the common sense to treat someone who endured what McCain had to endure with respect, yet Trump does not really seem to care if he offends anyone on either side of the political spectrum, just so long as he makes his opinions known.
Misogynist is also a word that has been brought up lately when referring to Donald Trump, given that he has made sexist comments in numerous interviews throughout the month of August. In an interview with The New York Times, Trump made an out-of-nowhere statement claiming that iconic supermodel Heidi Klum is no longer a “10,” although he at least had the courtesy to preface that insult with the following claim: “Sometimes, I do go a little bit far.”
Klum fired back at his comments claiming that they were not funny and that no woman deserves to be insulted in such a way. His remarks against Klum were preceded earlier in the month by an audacious statement he made about Fox News commentator Megyn Kelly during a phone interview with CNN Tonight’s Don Lemon. In that interview, Trump was critical of Kelly for calling him out on his possible misogynistic streak.
Trump said, “She gets out there and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions and you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her … wherever.” Trump was accused of insinuating she was menstruating, but he recanted those claims by saying he was referring to her bleeding out her nose. Yet, given Trump’s history of badmouthing people, it really would not be beneath him to disrespect a woman like that.
With all that you just read, you would think that Trump’s campaign for the GOP nomination would be out of gas before it even got the motor running; unfortunately, though, that could not be farther from the truth. Numerous surveys released throughout the summer have shown that if anything, the controversy has helped Trump become the GOP frontrunner at the moment.
On July 9, YouGov released a nationwide poll which showed Trump in the lead for the Republican nomination with 15 percent to Jeb Bush’s 11 percent. USA Today’s poll from July 14 also found Trump ahead of Bush with 17 percent to Bush’s 14 percent. A Washington Post poll taken over the course of July 16 to July 19 found Trump in first with 24 percent Republican support; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was in second place at 13 percent. CBS News’ poll from August 4 had Trump in first place with 24 percent support, Bush in second at 13 percent and Walker in third at 10 percent. Finally, a poll released on August 25 by Gravis Marketing for One American News Network had Trump’s lead in the Republican category surge to 40 percent, a near-10 percent increase from the poll they released less than a month before.
The reason Trump has been leading so many of these polls is simple; he is getting the people to talk about him. Although the things Trump has done over the summer can be seen as insensitive and mean-spirited, they have bought the candidate a boatload of free publicity that keeps him relevant and makes the public want to see what he is going to do next. As the old saying goes, “all publicity is good publicity” and right now Trump has the people in the palm of his hands.
Next to Caitlyn Jenner, there has not been another celebrity in the past year, let alone the summer, that has had as much media attention and discussion from the general public as Trump has. As a result, Trump is considered by many to be the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in 2016.
Nothing is set in stone, of course, as people can move onto another controversial figure and jump off the Trump train as quickly as they hopped on it. This can very easily be a heat of the moment event where once things cool off, Trump loses his momentum in the polls and does not get nominated after all. Still, it cannot be denied that when we look back on the summer of 2015, the big and brash attitude of the controversial billionaire will have us reflecting on it as the “Summer of Trump.”