UPDATED: About Donald Trump’s ‘Major Announcement’

This was the YouTube video he released earlier today…

The long and short of it – it’s a challenge. Trump says if Obama will release his college and passport records, he’ll cut a check to whatever charity the president wants for $5 million on the spot.

And that’s a good challenge. By refusing to release his records before Halloween Night, Obama looks absolutely terrible. Trump can then cut a web ad or run spots on TV in swing states or nationally making sure everybody knows that Obama had a chance to raise $5 million for sick kids or breast cancer or protection of baby seals or whatever it is he cares about, but he was too selfish and too secretive to do it.

We all know Obama is going to refuse – or ignore – this challenge. We all know that. So Trump will be able to spend the final week before the election (1) talking about how uncaring and untransparent the president is, and (2) saying that because he wouldn’t help sick kids or spotted owls or whatever by releasing records everybody else running for president would be expected to release, it proves that Obama’s got something in those records he can’t afford to let the rest of us see.

That he applied to Occidental and/or Columbia as a foreign student, for example. Or that his grades stunk and he’s an affirmative action baby. Or whatever. If Obama won’t release the records proving otherwise Trump can speculate to his heart’s content about them.

We think this is all great stuff. But it’s a bust nonetheless.

It’s a bust because Trump built it up wrong. Trump set up the announcement by styling it as a big reveal, like he had the goods on Obama. That gave people the impression they were going to see something new. So when he announced a perfectly good challenge to Obama, folks felt like it was a letdown.

He had a great idea, but he botched the rollout.

Still, it’s a valid challenge. He needs to push it out in the media. He needs to do as much radio and TV as he can, and he might want to consider doing an ad buy or two to back it. If he can continue to push the challenge he’ll overcome the disappointment of folks thinking he had Obama’s number.

The big question at this point is whether anybody can get Jay Carney or David Axelrod or Ben LaBolt or Stephanie Cutter or Jen Psaki to go on the record with a comment about Trump’s challenge. We all know Obama won’t comment on it.

OH, BY THE WAY (Which is another way to say “UPDATE”): There is a theory going around on this that rather than trying to stick it in Obama, what Trump is really up to is upstaging Gloria Allred. He goes and does this “Major Announcement” on the same day Allred is in court in Boston trying to get Mitt Romney’s testimony from Staples founder Tom Stemberg’s divorce case unsealed.

Allred’s play is a big fat zero, because what it’s about is apparently that Maureen Stemberg, her client and Tom Stemberg’s ex-wife who ultimately got 500,000 shares of Staples in the divorce settlement and is still angry about that 15 years later, says those shares weren’t worth what they were represented to be at the time. They were valued at $2 and change apiece at the time, but at Staples’ IPO they went off at $19.

Someone will have to explain that one to me, though, because 500,000 shares is 500,000 shares, regardless of what they’re worth. If they were worth $2 apiece when the divorce went final and then $19 at the IPO, what’s she complaining about? That’s a windfall. It’s like buying Apple at $12.

Supposedly Romney’s testimony in that divorce case was on the valuation of those shares. If Romney wasn’t screwing Maureen Stemberg, it’s hard to imagine his testimony in a 15-20 year old divorce case is particularly interesting to a persuadable voter.

But in any event, Trump will have generated bigger headlines than Allred on her big day trying to inject herself into the presidential election.

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