Is Donald Trump becoming a Republican liability?
Thanks to his larger-than-life persona and his rambling, flamboyant, stream-of-consciousness speaking style, Trump has quickly become a liability for the GOP.
Donald Trump is a "political disaster," says The Wall Street Journal.
He's gone "from sideshow to serious problem," notes The New York Times.
Trump is "dangerously toxic for the GOP brand," The Washington Post pronounces.
Indeed, thanks in part to his larger-than-life persona, and to his rambling, flamboyant, stream-of-consciousness speech at his presidential campaign launch two weeks ago, in which he famously referred to Mexican immigrants as "rapists" and "killers," Trump has quickly become a liability for the GOP, which is trying to rehabilitate its brand as more minority- and millennial-friendly.
That's because the GOP, arguably, already has a "minority problem," and is on "an urgent mission to woo Latino voters." The fact that one of its most recognizable, leading contenders has made – and remained in – the headlines for weeks due to inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants is less than helpful.
As Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said last week, Trump’s comments were “not helpful” to the party's efforts to reach out to minorities.
The danger, as one Democratic strategist told The Washington Post, is that Trump becomes "an anchor," weighing down the party's brand.
That's especially true because Democratic opponents – most prominently, Hillary Rodham Clinton – are trying to tie the rest of GOP field to Trump, particularly damaging as some other Republican contenders have actually voiced support for Trump's comments.
Like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who said Trump was “terrific”and that he should not apologize because he “speaks the truth.” And Iowa Rep. Steve King, who told KAYL Radio in Storm Lake, Iowa, “Donald Trump is one of the few individuals that will speak boldly about what he believes in, and he’ll be challenged by the P.C. police, the politically correct police, and instead of backing up and curling up, he just goes forward."
And then there are the debates.
Because of his name recognition, Trump will likely poll well enough to qualify for the debates, which means he'll knock off someone more serious who could use the platform to discuss real problems that affect the country – like Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
And of course, some have suggested Trump's entry would turn the debates into a reality show.
Democrats, of course, are watching with glee.
“I am a person of faith – and the Donald’s entry into this race can only be attributed to the fact that the good Lord is a Democrat with a sense of humor,” Paul Begala, veteran Democratic strategist and adviser to Priorities USA Action, a super PAC boosting Clinton’s candidacy, told The Washington Post.
They're also actively working to tar the rest of the Republican party with Trump's views, with Clinton calling his comments "emblematic," and at least one Democratic super PAC suggesting he's the new face of the GOP.
“Donald Trump is suddenly a force to be reckoned with in the G.O.P. primary, proving their rebrand is going splendidly,” Jessica Mackler, president of American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic super PAC, told the Times. “He’s a great example of everything Republicans stand for.”
Still, Republicans fretful that Trump will make a mockery of their field have reason to hope: With his trademark brand of brash, outrageous, braggadocio, Trump makes real politicians look good.
"He's a living, breathing Sister Souljah moment waiting to make the other nine Republicans look statesmanlike and tactful in comparison," writes managing editor Robert Schlesinger for US News & World Report. "He's a funhouse mirror caricature of the GOP (rich, white, bombastic, bigoted) which gives the actual candidates on the platform a foil off of whom they can score moderating points while still being as conservative as they (and the base) want to be."