Donald Trump (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)

Donald Trump may be losing the war -- but he's winning all the battles

Not even his GOP primary opponents can talk about anything else on the Sunday talk shows


Scott Eric Kaufman
July 6, 2015 5:30PM (UTC)

Donald Trump's presidential campaign may very well be doomed, but if his actual plan was just to call more attention to the Trump brand, this weekend was a resounding success as Republican hopefuls and conservative commentators seemingly spent the entire holiday weekend talking about the embattled real estate mogul.

On "Fox News Sunday," conservative columnist George Will called Trump "a one-man Todd Akin," a reference to the failed Congressional campaign of the GOP candidate who coined the term "legitimate rape."

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"Picture him on the stage" in the Republican presidential debates, Will said. "He says something hideously inflammatory -- which is all he knows how to say -- and then what do the other nine people on stage do? Do they either become complicit in what he said by their silence, or do they all have to attack him? The debate gets hijacked."

A man who would like to be one of those other nine people, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, was on ABC's "This Week" opining that Trump was ignorant of the policies he'd instituted to slow down immigration across the Texas border.

"I don't think he understands the challenge," Perry said. Moreover, "Donald Trump doesn't represent the Republican party. I was offended by his remarks. Hispanics in America, and Hispanics in Texas, from the Alamo to Afghanistan, have been extraordinary people."

"He's going to have to defend those remarks," Perry said, unwittingly proving Will's point. "I never will."

On "Face the Nation," Rick Santorum also took issue with Trump's remarks, saying that "the vast majority of people coming legally from Mexico and other places are people who want to do the right thing." However, he added, "people who are coming illegally obviously are coming with a bad intent -- let's be honest, they are coming with the clear intent of breaking the law."

Santorum continued to soft-pedal Trump's remarks, saying that "I think Donald points to a very important thing, which is that we have a serious problem of illegal immigration in this country that is undermining American workers."

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Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele had harsh words for his successor, Reince Priebus, on "Meet the Press," saying that the party needs "to be honest" about Trump and "call it what it is."

"People are sophisticated enough to know when you're just full of B.S." he said. "Everyone in the country reacted to [Trump's statements about immigrants] and you didn't, the party didn't, and those who want to be president didn't until this week."

"That's a problem," Steele continued. "It's a problem of authenticity -- and it's a problem of legitimacy when you're going to speak to that community."

"Weekly Standard" editor Bill Kristol made a weak attempt to paint the Trump campaign as a natural part of the democratic process, but even he didn't sound very convinced. "Republicans need to incorporate what is healthy about the Trump message," he said, "which is an anti-establishment, anti-Washington message, and a genuine concern about illegal immigrants, the fact that some of them are criminals -- that’s not a ridiculous thing to say."

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However, he added, the way Trump said it "was crude and reprehensible."


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Bill Kristol Donald Trump Elections 2016 George Will Michael Steele Rick Perry Rick Santorum Video

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