GOP Chairman: Trump Is Rewriting The Political Playbook


There's a new Teflon Don.

Despite routinely saying things that would be campaign-sinking gaffes for traditional politicians, blunt assessments of rivals and world leaders that would disqualify other presidential hopefuls, and his ongoing insistence that the public doesn't want to see his tax returns, Donald Trump hasn't taken a hit in the polls.

That's because he's "rewritten the playbook" on politics, the Republican National Committee's Reince Priebus told ABC's Jonathan Karl on May 15.

"I believe that the American people look at someone like Donald Trump and say, OK, here's a guy on the outside. Here's a guy that's never run for office," Priebus said. "And I just have to tell you, after a year of dealing with this primary, one on one — and you know it's been a lot — I don't think the traditional playbook applies, Jon. We've been down this road for a year. And it doesn't apply. He's rewritten the playbook."

Aside from the tax return issue, Trump has also been hit hard in recent days by criticism and news stories in newspapers like the Washington Post and the New York Times. The former ran a story alleging the real estate mogul impersonated a spokesman 25 years ago to toot his own horn to reporters, while the latter ran a long, detailed article that included allegations of sexually aggressive behavior toward female employees and colleagues.

Trump himself has dismissed both stories in his usual blunt fashion, and Priebus said the stories are unlikely to hurt the candidate.

"I've got to tell you, I think that all these stories that come out — and they come out every couple weeks — people just don't care," Priebus said.

The Republican national chairman admitted that some issues may force Trump to change course, and said voter backlash could lead to the candidate releasing his tax returns. Trump's reluctance to make his returns public has led to criticism from Democrats and some Republicans, including former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romeny, who reluctantly released his own tax returns in 2012 after caving to pressure.

“It is disqualifying for a modern-day presidential nominee to refuse to release tax returns to the voters," Romney wrote, according to Bloomberg, "especially one who has not been subject to public scrutiny in either military or public service."

After initially saying he would not release the documents, Trump told Fox News that he'll release them "hopefully before the election," saying it's contingent on the IRS completing an audit. If he withholds his returns, Trump would become the first major party candidate since 1976 to keep his taxes private, NBC News noted.

"I think people are judging Donald Trump as to whether or not he's someone that's going to go to Washington and shake things up," Priebus said on ABC. "And that's why he's doing so well."

Sources: NBC News, Bloomberg / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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