What’s the deal with Donald Trump?
He can’t possibly think he has a chance against a dozen highly qualified candidates, all but one of whom have held elective office, from governor to senator, for years. He must know that after a tiny pop in the polls over the silly summer season (remember Howard Dean?), he’ll tumble back down to earth and disappear.
True, Mr. Trump couldn’t care less how embarrassing he is — to the Republican Party, sure, but also to himself. He’s an egotistical narcissist just blowing some of his $7 billion while in between tapings of his god-awful show “The Apprentice.” Might as well run for president.
But something else seems afoot. Mr. Trump is starting to look like a Democratic plant — and some top Republicans are starting to say so.
“Look, I don’t know what his intent is, but he’s infuriating Hispanics, the very group of voters the GOP is looking to make gains with in 2016,” said one party official who asked not to be named. “He could just be an egomaniac running his mouth, but he’s starting to look like a guy hand-delivered by the Democrats.”
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Here’s a fascinating fact. Since the late 1980s, The Donald has given Republicans $490,000, according to the OpenSecrets.org website. But he’s also given some $330,000 to top Democrats, like Hillary Rodham Clinton, Joseph R. Biden, John Kerry, Edward M. Kennedy, Harry Reid and Anthony Wiener, husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
And consider this: The tycoon last showed up in 2012 to talk about President Obama’s birth certificate, garnering plenty of coverage by the mainstream media news outlets (in one May 2012 interview on CNN, Wolf Blitzer said to him: “Donald, you’re beginning to sound a little ridiculous, I have to tell you”).
Republicans had long moved past the questions that swirled around Mr. Obama’s birth. But the issue was brought back to the fore by Mr. Trump — and Mitt Romney was then asked repeatedly about the “Republican” stance that the party didn’t believe Mr. Obama was born in America. Plant, or just a fool?
Now, Mr. Trump has declared his candidacy for the presidency (although in his announcement speech, in which he said “I” 195 times, he didn’t once declare he was running for the Republican nomination).
Mr. Trump has once again drawn MSM coverage, this time for saying Mexico is “sending people that have lots of problems They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Last Monday he doubled down, declaring that “infectious disease is pouring across the border.” He also ranted about the killing of a woman in San Francisco in which police arrested an illegal alien who had been deported five times.
If that wasn’t bad enough, he retweeted a comment about Jeb Bush’s wife, Columba, a Mexican who came to America legally: “@RobHeilbron: @realDonaldTrump #JebBush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife.” He quickly deleted the tweet.
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While some hardcore conservatives are singing Mr. Trump’s praises, calling him brave for telling the truth, Republican leaders are starting to worry. Another official on one of the Republican candidates’ campaign said Trump can single-handedly hurt the party.
“The media is always quick to point out that Trump is a Republican — or says he is — so people who hear him talking think the GOP hates Mexico, and therefore Hispanics. I wouldn’t say it’s deadly, but it’s certainly not good, is it?”
Still, there is a view that Mr. Trump is speaking to the masses who object to illegal immigration, and his remarks will force candidates to take tough positions on the border.
“The first point to make is that Trump is resonating with a lot of people,” Mark Krikorian, executive director for the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Hill. “It’s not just Republicans, but a lot of ordinary Americans,” he said. “It’s precisely because regular politicians aren’t addressing the issues they are concerned about.”
And while Mr. Trump may be hurting the Republican Party, he is helping himself. He came in second place in two recent national polls of the 2016 Republican field, and is rising fast in New Hampshire.
But something else might also be going on. Mr. Trump is running the hardline on immigration, but more moderate Americans don’t like it. Perhaps Mr. Trump is just a foil, there to make the hard-liners look silly and smooth the way for a softer voice — Sen. Marco Rubio or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
With his money, Mr. Trump could stay in the race a long time. He could even switch over to run as an independent. But you watch: He’s in this race with a directive — from the Democrats, the Republicans, the Bilderburgs, Rupert Murdoch, no one knows — and when he achieves the goal, he’ll slip back under the rock he crawled out from.
Let’s just hope he doesn’t take to long to say to himself: “You’re fired.”
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.