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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teflon Trump Driving His Party Batty

Some Headlines that reveal the state of near panic of the GOP about their presidential candidate front-runners:
Time for GOP panic? Establishment worried Carson or Trump might win” by Phillip Rucker and Robert Costa of the Washington Post.
Then there’s Maggie Habermans’s New York Times article, “Donald Trump Asks Iowans: ‘How Stupid’ Are They to Believe Ben Carson?
At Politico Ben White describes the latest Trump meltdown in “What Trump’s bizarre Iowa tirade looked like up close.”
From “The Note: Trump Gone Wild” by Michael Barone at ABC News

–‘HOW STUPID ARE THE PEOPLE OF IOWA TO BELIEVE THIS CRAP’: On a contentious day in the GOP race, frontrunner Donald Trump didn’t shy away from calling out his rival “in second place” Ben Carson, asking the 1,500 Iowans in the crowd today about Carson’s “pathological stories” in his book and saying “How stupid are the people of Iowa to believe this crap?” Trump focused on a story from Carson’s books where he writes about stabbing someone with a knife, ABC’s JOHN SANTUCCI and JOSH HASKELL note. “It hit the belt. And the knife broke. Give me a break,” Trump told the crowd at Iowa Central Community College. Trump then stepped away from the podium and demonstrated what Carson stabbing a friend in the belt would look like. “He hit the belt buckle? Anybody with a knife wanna try it on me? Believe me it ain’t gonna work,” Trump said…

Panic in the GOP elite! Is this a job for Mitt?!?!?” by Joan McCarter at Daily Kos, who notes,

The fact that Donald Trump and Ben Carson are still around and are still sucking the oxygen out of the primary race is causing real panic among Republican elites. All their hopes that either of the two would self-destruct are not materializing, because no matter what these guys say, people seem to like it, and that makes it very difficult for another candidate to try to destroy them. What’s more, there’s not a lot of time to do something about it.

So how long can a political party remain competitive when its front-runner generates such headlines?
I’ve got to believe that Trump’s teflon is going to wear thin, very thin, before too long, when the GOP field narrows and his egomaniacal rants are no longer enough to carry the day in the polls. When that moment comes the power of the GOP establishment will kick in hard, as John McQuaid writes at Forbes:

The establishment’s sprawling networks of politicians, campaign personnel, donors, interest groups, and Fox News may be “paralyzed” right now, but they still hold powerful cards in the nomination fight, most yet to be played. So make no mistake. At some point, we will be bidding farewell to Donald Trump and Ben Carson.

But Trumpism may not go away from the GOP so quietly. As Fareed Zakaria notes: “A poll this week found that half of Republican voters think Trump is the presidential candidate best able to handle the immigration issue — almost five times the share any other candidate received.
Whether he wins or loses his party’s nomination, however, every day Trump can be called a “front-runner” helps brand the GOP as a chaotic circus — no matter who finally drives the clown car.

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