The Trump campaign is one big commercial for Trump Inc.

Donald Trump is giving the Republican National Convention a makeover. In his own image.

As Politico reported yesterday, “Trump is viewing the convention as a showcase for the brand he built in entertainment over three decades and then melded with a political persona developed over the last year. It’s an opportunity to fill a vacuum created by longtime Republican standard-bearers, from Mitt Romney and John McCain to the Bush family who are opting not to attend, and to elevate a new coalition of conservatives and present a party refashioned, at least for the moment, in his own image.”

As one of his campaign aides points out in the article  “This is a massive television production and he is a television star.” Trump the business man has made a career out of using media, especially television, to promote himself. Of course Trump the candidate would borrow from that playbook as he runs for President.

Donald Trump’s campaign could be viewed as one big commercial, but is it a commercial for his candidacy? It’s a legitimate question. His latest financial disclosures show that Trump’s Presidential campaign has been good for business.

The Washington Post compared his last couple of financial disclosures and found that Trump’s business revenue went from $362 million in 2014 to $557 million from July of 2015 through Monday.

Donald Trump, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Donald Trump, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

At his tony Florida resort Mar-a-Lago, revenue nearly doubled, climbing from about $16 million in 2014 and the first half of 2015 to about $30 million since the start of his campaign, according to the forms.

Sales of his licensed bottled-water brand, Trump Ice, are up as well — from $280,000 last year to $413,000 this year, the forms show.

“Crippled America,” his book published in November, made between $1 million and $5 million in royalties, he reported.

Running for President as a business venture isn’t unheard of. In 2012 Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich were both accused of running primarily to build their profiles and donor lists that could later be rented and sold at a hefty profit. (Both men have since proven those accusations true.) This cycle Ben Carson was accused of the same.

But Donald Trump hasn’t been building lists of donors. That’s small potatoes compared to what he’s accomplished. Trump’s Presidential campaign is one long infomercial for his business ventures. Which as it turns out is far more profitable than simply selling donor lists when your campaign has run its course. The RNC convention is his biggest advertising opportunity to date: 4 nights of prime time television to promote the Trump brand.

What’s interesting is that Trump has alluded to doing this before. When he was considering a third party run in 2000 Trump told a reporter: “It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.” Sixteen years later, it looks like Trump finally realized his goal.

Melissa Ryan
Melissa Ryan is a political consultant. She’s spent a decade leading digital campaigns for nonprofits and political races, including EMILY’s List, Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, the New Organizing Institute, and Senator Russ Feingold’s campaign. Visit her website at melissaryan.net or follow her on Twitter @MelissaRyan.

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