As Donald Trump bears down on the number of state delegates needed to amass a majority and win the GOP presidential nomination, a motley and desperate group of politicians, pundits, media personalities and religious leaders have come out publicly denouncing the frontrunner, some in very embarrassing ways (and others in a more polished manner) but it all amounts to the same thing the Republican Party is splintered.
Let’s take a step back and review the combined forces aligning themselves against Mr. Trump; the Republican front runner.
- Within the political realm, you have early allies of former candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, such as former Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush and former Governor of Louisiana and GOP presidential candidate Bobby Jindal.
- Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly said to GOP senators increasingly worried about Trump’s candidacy, “We’ll drop him like a hot rock.”
- Another former GOP presidential candidate, Rand Paul, has blasted Trump as narcissistic and delusional, labeling him “an orange-faced windbag” and that’s just some of the nicer things said about Trump.
- Famously, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham stated that having to decide between supporting Trump or GOP presidential challenger Ted Cruz was akin to having to choose between “being shot or poisoned.” In the GOP, there’s no shortage of politicians ready to offer a derogatory remark about The Donald.
There’s no doubt, Trump has been able to upset the status quo. If these Republican politicians had listened to the American people for the last 8 years, then they wouldn’t have to worry about a Trump presidency.
On the Democrat side of the aisle, opposition to Trump is nearly universal, although some democrat leaders, like Vice President Joe Biden and Democrat National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Schultz, claim they are actually hoping that Trump secures the Republican nomination because they believe that he’s the ‘most beatable’ opposition candidate, I seriously doubt it. Think about it. I don’t believe Hillary Clinton wants to go head to head with Donald Trump. After all he knows where all the bodies are buried. He is unpredictable. Not looking by ago I heard Van Jones on CNN say something to the effect of “if Hillary Clinton thinks Trump will be a walk in the park, be very careful what you wish for, his own party opponents haven’t been able to take him down, I doubt the Clintons will know how to handle him either” my thoughts exactly Van, and I never agree with him.
Among some of the more outspoken Democrat voices against Trump are President Barack Obama, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
When it comes to business leaders, Facebook golden boy Mark Zuckerberg has been strongly critical of Trump, calling his ideas about limiting visas for foreign tech workers “absurd” via his FWD.us advocacy group. Trump criticized the social media mogul in a policy paper proving Trump is no respecter of persons. If he disagrees with you; you will know it regardless of who you are.
Advertising giant WPP CEO Martin Sorrell has said “who knows” what Trump will mean for business. Billionaire financier George Soros has laid into Trump, referring to him as a “demagogue” and supporting protesters that have infamously committed violence at Trump’s rallies through his funding of the progressive MoveOn.org organization. Why would Soros try to take Trump down if not that he’s a threat?
Numerous other businessmen, especially free-trade advocates, have taken potshots at the candidate and his protectionist stances. Trump simply says “I’m not a protectionist, I am an America First guy that’s my stance” can’t argue with that. It’s what’s made him popular with his voters and supporters.
In the media, Trump has been feted by and given positive news coverage by myriad outlets. At the same time, he’s drawn fire from just as many, if not more.
Dead set against him are — predictably — the New York Times (owned by Mexican billionaire and sometime-richest-man-in-the-world Carlos Slim), The Washington Post (owned by Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos), the New York Daily News (owned by billionaire Democratic donor Mortimer Zuckerman, whose anti-Trump zeal goes back decades) and The Boston Globe, among other news outlets.
Certainly, Trump’s anti-Mexican statements have won him no support at Latin broadcaster Univision, especially after Trump’s security ejected veteran Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos from one of his rallies.
Financial papers especially don’t like Trump. The Wall Street Journal has said that Trump’s “foreign policy brain trust consists of one brain.” Rothschild family-owned The Economist magazine stated that a Trump presidency was high on a list of their “global risk factors.” Martin Wolf, the associate editor of the UK’s Financial Times has called Trump’s constituents “economic losers.”
Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News seems to have a love/hate relationship with The Donald, alternatively bashing him in press releases and via newscasters like Megyn Kelly (who notoriously seems to have gotten under Trump’s skin) and at the same time giving him air time and broadcasting his press conferences. (For the record, owner Murdoch has admonished the candidate to “calm down” in the wake of a number of some of his more incendiary comments.)
Among media pundits, Trump is a lightning rod that has divided conservative commentators such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. The former made peace with the candidate after arriving at the belief that the Republican Party aristocracy was out of touch with its base.
Limbaugh now claims to identify with Trump’s anti-establishment views; both Trump and Limbaugh feel to some degree that the elite of the GOP has used them.
Meanwhile, Beck, an evangelical beacon, has framed the real estate magnate in some of the most unflattering terms possible, claiming that Trump’s supporters are “not listening to their God” and that “no real Christian says I want that guy.”
Liberal observers such as Rachel Maddow and The Young Turks have had a field day with Trump, with Maddow’s team pulling stunts like visiting Donald Trump State Park in upstate New York (an abandoned parcel of land donated by Trump to the state after he was unable to obtain the right to build a golf course there) and making a new lime-flavored cocktail on The Tonight Show she said was based on Trump’s candidacy.
The Young Turks have called Trump “a clown” and had in the past taken to blurring his face in video clips. That ended in August of last year as it became clear Trump’s candidacy was the real deal. Nowadays, the frontrunner is subjected to near-daily abuse by the outspoken liberal hosts.
Even theological leaders have jumped aboard the anti-Trump train, although it should be noted that Trump currently polls higher with evangelicals as a group than conservative born-again Christian Ted Cruz.
But whereas Cruz was able to parlay an initial evangelical base of support into victory in Iowa, he’s been hard-pressed to capitalize on it again outside of Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and possibly Idaho.
In fact, some polls have suggested that much of his foundation within this group has faded as tales of dirty tricks and conjectural womanizing have surfaced. Just as harmful is the sentiment that Cruz may not look like he can pull off a win and, therefore, would be a repeat of past evangelical crushed-hopes such as Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee.
When the Pope called out Trump as anti-Christian for wanting to build a wall to keep immigrants from coming across the southern border of the U.S., Trump blasted the Vatican for having its own walls (Trump even included photos of them in his Tweets), effectively accusing the pontiff of hypocrisy.
The Vatican later backed down from its attack on Trump, saying it wasn’t trying to influence the U.S. election.
Other Trump enemies include banks, neocons, Middle Eastern leaders (particularly Saudis), Hollywood actors and Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman, who purportedly put a bounty on the candidate’s head of $100 million prior to being jailed for the third time.
We’ve seen in the last several months very organized and serious opposition to Trump crystallize in the form of a super PAC called Our Principles, fronted by veteran GOP strategist Katie Packer and leading with mouthpiece (and theoretically possible 2016 third-party candidate) Mitt Romney castigating Trump as “a phony,” “a fraud” and “dishonest.”
Romney spoke at a press conference that was widely covered and re-broadcast in the media to vocalize his resistance to Trump, despite thanking the mogul profusely for his support in Romney’s 2012 run against Barack Obama, with Trump claiming that the former GOP nominee had “begged” him for his endorsement then.
Since this war of words occurred (which many believe backfired badly and actually mobilized support for Trump), more politicians and donors have joined the super PAC, which has openly admitted to exploring possibilities for a third-party run against the populist candidate if he succeeds in amassing the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the GOP nomination outright.
Time for such an effort is quickly running out, and despite a healthy presence of anti-Trump forces in the Republican political and fundraising landscape, it seems that many in this group cannot agree on a dedicated strategy to confront the vainglorious candidate head-on.
Super PAC Club for Growth has been equally critical in the anti-Trump fight, and it’s paid for anti-Trump ads, particularly in Florida prior to Trump’s massive victory in the primary there.
Some in these groups believe that backing Ted Cruz is a winning strategy, and figures such as Neil and Jeb Bush as well as South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Utah Governor Gary Herbert have jumped on that bandwagon.
Others, such as billionaire Paul Singer, initially wanted to support Marco Rubio before he collapsed in the disastrous Florida primary and finally withdrew from the race.
And still others think that John Kasich or possibly even an as-yet-to-be-determined contender (former Texas governor Rick Perry and Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have been mentioned) could be a newly anointed pick of the upcoming Republican convention if Trump turns out not to be the majority nominee.
The primary goal of the both super PACs is to make sure the majority-loss scenario comes to fruition at all costs. Thus, these groups have a vested interest in seeing John Kasich remain in the race, despite his having no chance whatsoever to win mathematically; he could still siphon votes and, in theory, delegates, away from Trump, although to date, his sole state victory of Ohio doesn’t offer voters much to be hopeful about.
One statistic that the anti-Trump forces have in their favor is that in the 30-odd states that have had either conventions, caucuses or primaries, anti-Trump voters have overwhelmingly been in the majority, making up more than 60 percent of GOP numbers. Those numbers however don’t take into account that when it comes to Trump the changing face of the electorate is hard to determine. Lifelong Democrats voting for Trump, and other changes in the electorate. It’s quite possible the numbers are not telling the whole story. Is it in part because the numbers are fixed to tell a different story? I don’t know.
Certainly, being framed as a ‘left-field’ and ‘non-serious’ candidate initially can now be seen as a masterfully-executed fake out by Trump that his military-school background likely prepared him for.
Skillful tactics such as these are sure to be expected in even greater quantity should he be confirmed as the candidate to face Hillary Clinton in the Fall. Indeed, to underestimate Trump’s strength in this department would be perilous and conceivably catastrophic for the former Secretary of State.
While there are many against Trump, I believe it would be a disaster for the Republican power brokers to subvert the choice of the voters.