Trump's strategy is unfolding. Bear with me for brief notes on his two policies released so far. Then I'll get back to the overall strategy.
Check out this Vox.com article for a point-by-point matchup between Trump's policy statement and the NRA's positions. Here's the summary.
The front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination released his second policy paper of the campaign Friday, and it's a full-throated endorsement of the preeminent gun lobby's wish list. Trump's always been generally in favor of guns, but he used to believe in some restrictions — including the ban on so-called assault weapons that expired about a decade ago. Not anymore.
... Trump's platform on gun control is virtually indistinguishable from the NRA's agenda at the federal level. That's a good place to be in a Republican primary. But if he loses, he can always go the Charlton Heston route and become the group's public face.
His earlier policy release was on immigration. (You can track Trump's position papers on his web site here.)
One of his "core principles" has Mexico paying for a wall along our entire southern border. "There must be a wall across the southern border" and he will "Make Mexico Pay For The Wall." Other positions include "End birthright citizenship" and "Mandatory return of all criminal aliens" (aka mass deportation).
Is this the strategy?
His public remarks have not cooled off at all, so Trump still comes off as a renegade outsider, a truer conservative than those Republican candidates holding (or having held) public offices. But his policy releases so far suggest that he's endorsing positions held by most Republicans - little gun control and securing our border to name two. As a result, he attracts the hard-core right-wing-nuts but also attracts (or at least does not repel) the establishment base. (Now his effect on the GOP's establishment leaders is another story.) Stay tuned for policy number 3 as a test case.