WASHINGTON - The U.S. presidential election is more than a year away. The campaign is in the stage of being personality-driven. This year, more than ever, the strongest, wildest comments get the most traction -- especially on the Republican side.
As Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrived in his personal helicopter to campaign at the Iowa State Fair, one youngster thought he was Batman. Trump might not be a superhero, but he is the Republican frontrunner who gets the most publicity because of what he says.
"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, [bringing] their rapists," said Trump.
Political Historian Allan Lichtman says personalities are leading the publicity because there are 17 Republican candidates for the party's nomination. And each is trying to stand out.
“The entertainment culture has taken over the political culture,” said Lichtman.
Former Governor Mike Huckabee recently caused controversy because of his comments on the Holocaust.
“Three times I’ve been to Auschwitz. When I talked about the oven door, I have stood at that oven door. I know exactly what it looks like,” he said.
Meanwhile, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s remarks illegal immigration raised eyebrows.
“If they came here and did that, we can still keep them together by packaging them up and sending them back,” said Carson.
Lichtman predicts that this year’s early frontrunners may not fall back in the face of establishment candidates like Jeb Bush.
“The smart money has said Donald Trump is a flash-in-the-pan, he’s going to fade away. The Republicans always nominate the establishment guy. That might not happen this year because the establishment guy, Jeb Bush, has run such a lackluster campaign," said Lichtman.
Lichtman said presidential campaigns eventually focus more on differences in policy – but that might not happen anytime soon since the Republican candidates don’t disagree on much.