If Donald Trump is as smart as he says he is, he'd get out of the presidential race now.
It's all downhill for him from here on in, signs suggest. If he wants to walk away with his brand intact, he'd step aside stat, like a true showman, leaving 'em wanting more.
Trump himself hinted this week that he's considering just that. "I'm a practical person," he told ABC News. "If I see things aren't going well . . . if for some reason I think it's not going to work, I'll go back to my business."
Why, you might ask, would anyone leading in a presidential campaign drop out? Because he can't win. And The Donald hates to lose.
There's a woman in East Appalachia who hasn't heard of Trump, rumor has it. But besides her, everyone in America knows who Trump is. He has virtually 100% name recognition, and still he can't manage to break beyond the 25% to 30% or so of disaffected Republicans supporting him. And many of those supporters are beginning to drift.
In short, Trump hit his apex weeks ago. It's only a slide from here.
Trump's handlers are doing yeoman's work to prop their candidate back up. They're churning out policy proposals, like this week's tax plan, to offer substance where there's been none. But it's too late. The vast majority of Republican voters will never vote for Trump, and those who would don't want to hear policy proposals. Policy proposals are for politicians. They want a candidate who expresses their frustration.
That's always been the sticking point for the Trump campaign. To expand beyond his base, Trump needs to start talking like every other politician. But if he starts talking like every other politician, he loses his base. He should be smart enough to recognize that.
I worked with Karol Markowitz, a semi-professional poker player-turned-New York Post columnist, some years ago. She came into the office one morning, straight from an all-night Texas Hold 'em tournament in Atlantic City. She was beaming.
Why? Because she had folded a full house to a higher full house in the final round.
That takes savvy. We'll soon see whether The Donald has it.
William F. B. O'Reilly is a Republican consultant.