Surreality show: Donald Trump the presidential candidate

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011. Photo: Wikimedia Commons (Gage Skidmore)

There he goes again. Just as sure as the sun rising in the east, the U.S presidential candidate Donald J. Trump has said something that damages the Republican Party with a group it’s trying to make inroads with. He has resumed his attacks on Fox News’ Megyn Kelly after she returned from vacation. Of course, his supporters are eating it up.

Okay, for many Americans an offensive and divisive remark by Trump the presidential candidate is something that is now expected on a regular basis. However, Trump stunned many when he attacked a rival candidate, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, for offending Asians for bringing them into the “anchor baby” debate. (For the record, birth tourism is an issue and federal agents have raided illegal groups that cater to Chinese families looking to have their child born an American citizen.)

Let that sink in: Trump just accused a rival of offending an ethnic group through something they said. The temerity is astounding.

The term “anchor baby” is one that not only offends. When asked, Republican attorney Juan Carlos Polanco said that the term is “offensive, degrading, dehumanizes and villainizes an innocent baby as illegitimate – as fruit of the poisonous tree. It condemns a child when the focus should be the undocumented parent who broke the law.”

Shallow candidate

When Trump speaks about immigration, or really any policy for that matter, he speaks vaguely, offering only some sort of a feel-good soundbite that is no plan or policy to deal with the issue.

Immigration? Build a wall along the United States’ southern border and make Mexico pay for it.

How? The American public is still waiting for that answer (and will be for a long time).

Sexist attacks?

Trump is also repeatedly attacking Fox News host Megyn Kelly for her tough, warranted and fair questioning of him as a moderator in the August 6 GOP debate. After Kelly returned from a vacation, he took to Twitter to share his opinion that she was a “bimbo” and that her show is not good. This comes after a furious series of swipes at her following the debate.

At the same time, Trump has remained silent when it comes to the questioning of another moderator, Chris Wallace, who asked him equally as tough and pertinent questions about his position on the issues, as well as policies. There have been no Twitter tirades or attacks in speeches and media appearances. It certainly gives the impression that Trump believes it is fine for a man to be tough with him, but if a woman does more than smile, it is somehow out of line.

This is worrisome, as equality appears to be an issue that will have a large presence deep in the 2016 election.

Sucking the oxygen out of the room

Trump is dominating the airwaves and receiving more coverage than any other presidential candidate. It’s giving rival campaigns fits as they try to figure out how to get more coverage, as well as land attacks against him that damage him with his supporters. So far, not much has worked.

The behemoth that is the coverage of Trump in the media has caused another issue for Republicans, while being a gift to Democrats and Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton: a serious scandal is receiving less attention.

Former Secretary Clinton used a private email account, which was hosted on her own servers, to conduct business as secretary of state. Furthermore, she sent classified information over this network, an act that is illegal. This has been a scandal for months, with each passing day revealing new and even more damaging information. Now, the FBI is conducting a probe of this scandal.

The potentially illegal actions of a former Secretary Clinton while she served as secretary of State should be the lead story from every news outlet. Instead, we have Trump and his cacophony of a campaign are obscuring real news.

Success in the polls, but signs of trouble in the general election

So why is Trump doing so well in the polls? He is running as a celebrity and outsider, while tapping into the frustration that voters feel with Washington. His outsider credentials have given him a boost (the other two outsiders in the race, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, are also doing well in the polls).

A September 2015 Monmouth University poll of Republican voters found that 67 percent of GOP primary voters would prefer the next president be someone who is coming from outside of government and would bring a “new approach” to problem solving in Washington.

What should be worrisome for Trump is that voters under the age of thirty-five are not flocking to support him and hold an overall negative opinion of him. The youth vote, which President Obama captured in 2008, is an important voting bloc to lock up for a presidential election.

When one starts to look at Trump in a general election matchup, there should be cause for concern among republicans. He does not appear to put any swing states into contention for the GOP. He loses vital battleground states like Ohio and Pennsylvania to both Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary Clinton. In Florida, Trump would lose to Biden, but just beats Clinton.

If the Democrat presidential nominee won Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania (in addition to the standard “blue states”), the 67 electoral votes those three states award would put them in the White House.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, has very high approval numbers in his home state. Among independents, he has a 60 percent approval rating and only 28 percent disapproval rating. Lastly, more Democrats have a favorable opinion of Kasich than unfavorable, with 46 percent approving of his performance and 44 percent not. This certainly helps Kasich in a general election matchup in his home state of Ohio.

In Florida, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio both perform better than Trump in general election matchups. They, like Kasich, have a far broader appeal, not to mention are far more viable, than Trump.

Americans are over 400 days away from Election Day 2016 and more than 140 days away from the Iowa Caucus. While a lot can change in that span of time, Donald Trump’s ability to say something divisive and offensive most certainly will not.

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