Here's why Hurricane Trump is still gaining strength

Conflicts Donald Trump created with his negative comments about Mexican immigration and other issues are likely to get worse. Other Republican presidential candidates are scrambling to distance themselves from Trump.

Seth Wenig/AP
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives at a fundraising event at a golf course in the Bronx borough of New York, Monday, July 6, 2015.

Think Hurricane Trump is blowing hard now?  Here’s our prediction: It’s only going to intensify.

Maybe that doesn’t seem possible given the disruption billionaire Donald Trump has already brought to the Republican presidential race. But signs indicate that the conflicts he’s created with his negative comments about Mexican immigration and other issues will only get worse and draw even more attention in days and weeks to come.

Here’s why:

He's still digging. Trump hasn’t really apologized for saying that Mexico is pushing rapists and other bad folks over the US border. If anything he’s doubled down. On Wednesday he told NBC News that he’s got lots of (legal) Latino immigrants working for him on his construction projects and that they “love” him.

He creates jobs and Hispanics like that, said Trump.

“If I get the nomination, I’ll win the Latino vote,” The Donald predicted.

Way to keep the focus on a subject that’s splitting the party and infuriating an important part of the electorate! Fellow GOP hopeful Sen. Lindsey Graham complained about this himself on Wednesday, saying that his party hasn’t been helping itself on immigration and that it risks letting Trump set the pace on the issue.

“My party is in a hole with Hispanics – the first rule of politics when you’re in a hole is to stop digging,” Senator Graham of South Carolina said following a Washington speech. “And somebody needs to take the shovel out of Donald Trump’s hand.”

His exit doors are closing. How’s Trump going to manage his inevitable departure from the race? That’s getting harder to see. At one point it seemed obvious that he had a face-saving escape plan via “Celebrity Apprentice” – he’d reach a point where, reluctantly, he’d just have to drop out of the race to re-sign his NBC contract and restart production, or risk losing the show. He’s said that’s a big reason he never jumped into the race in the past.

Now he’s lost the show anyway. NBC has cut ties with him over his immigration remarks. That’s one soft exit, gone.

Of course most candidates just withdraw after losing a few primaries and the money dries up. They say something about respecting the will of the voters. Do you see Trump handling defeat without blame and recrimination? Us neither.

Maybe the Federal Election Commission deadline for more financial disclosures could be an out here. Trump will hit that some time in the fall. He’d say that big investments won’t let him reveal details or something like that, and stop running.

Or maybe he’ll win. We doubt that in the extreme, but we’ve been wrong about Trump before.

He's a target. Republican also-rans desperate to make the Top 10 have a new strategy: Trumpify.

In other words, attack, decry, or otherwise try to pick a fight with the candidate who’s getting the most media attention in the race. Maybe that will boost a national profile just enough to flop over the Fox News threshold, into the Top 10 as measured by major polls, and into the crucial first national debate.

That’s why former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has recorded a full two-minute video centered on countering Trump’s immigration assertions. That’s why Graham made a point of criticizing Trump. Carly Fiorina and Rick Santorum have done the same thing.

“For some of the lower-tier – the B-squad – Trump is a perfect vehicle to get into the press. Why not toss a few statements at him and see what sticks?” writes Philip Bump of the Washington Post political blog The Fix, making this point.

But make no mistake: Trump seems sure to make the cut for that Aug. 6 debate showdown. The category of storm he is at that point remains to be seen.

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