Matt Mackowiak, 7/21/2015 [Archive]

Conservatives Should Send Trump Packing

By Matt Mackowiak

When it comes to earning free publicity, Donald Trump is in a class by himself.

Trump's outrageous comment that U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was "not a war hero" because he was captured as a POW is likely the most outrageous thing any presidential candidate has ever said.

Given several opportunities to apologize, Trump is refusing. And this comes on the heels of him saying that Mexico is sending "rapists" into the U.S.

To be fair, Trump deserves a certain amount of credit for rightly criticizing sanctuary city policies which allowed the preventable murder of a young woman in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant who had been previously deported five times.

Who can say our border is secure when a criminal can enter the country illegally a sixth time after being deported five times?

But in typical Trump fashion, his reckless language wasted an opportunity to pressure Democrats and the White House to end their support for sanctuary city policies. Today more than 300 cities in the U.S. do not check the immigration status of citizens when they are questioned. Trump knows this and is exploiting it.

Apart from serious questions about Trump's business associates, unethical business practices, misuse of bankruptcy law and inconsistent public statements raised by David Cay Johnston, there is much to dislike and distrust.

He constantly talks about himself in the third person, needlessly reminds everyone of his personal wealth (partially created by four bankruptcies), brags about where he went to business school, and repeatedly flaunts his success writing business books and starring in a reality TV series.

But conservatives need to focus on Trump's recent views on public policy.

In 1999, he told Tim Russert on NBC's "Meet the Press" that he supports abortion, even late-term abortion.

He has supported amnesty for illegal immigrants in the past.

He says Bill Clinton is the greatest president in American history.

In 2008, he wanted Hillary Clinton to be Barack Obama's vice president. Hillary Clinton attended Trump's (third) wedding and he has donated generously to her "charitable" foundation.

He says he supports free trade, yet he is a radical protectionist.

What is it that some conservatives love about Trump?

He's the anti-politician, it seems. There is no strategy — he riffs on whatever he wants to talk about, attacking Mexico, China and other Republicans relentlessly.

It doesn't matter. He will not be the Republican nominee. He will never be president.

If he were the nominee, polls in the past month show him losing to Hillary by 20-30 points in what would be the largest landslide in U.S. history. Perhaps this is his goal.

Given that we have an $18 trillion national debt, which is now 100 percent of GDP, perhaps his deep personal experience with bankruptcy law would be a plus.

The Trump circus will continue, and, as Matt Lewis has pointed out, there are perverse incentives for Trump as a candidate. The more irresponsible he is, the more media attention he gets. He is not actively campaigning in the early states. He is not building a campaign organization like other campaigns are. He doesn't need to raise outside money.

Our country is sharply divided, and we face a larger and more complex set of serious challenges than at any time in living memory.

Republicans need to nominate a serious candidate who understands the threat posed by ISIS and Iran and will confront it, who has a plan to return us to 4 percent annual growth, who will rein in the welfare and entitlement programs that are bankrupting us.

So why is Trump gaining support?

I rather agree with National Review's Kevin D. Williamson, who recently wrote that Trump's conservative supporters love him, "not because Trump confounds the Democrats or because he constitutes a serious threat to a Democratic victory in 2016, but because he confounds the Republicans and constitutes a serious threat to a Republican victory in 2016."

Many conservatives are frustrated with the Republican Party, believing they haven't fought hard enough against Obama. The simple truth is that they don't have 60 votes in the U.S. Senate (Keystone being the exception) and so it is hard to proactively achieve policy victories.

As a result, it matters greatly who is in the White House.

Which brings me back to the original point: Donald Trump is neither a serious nor a conservative candidate. We have more than a dozen good candidates. We should ignore Trump and focus on viable, successful conservatives who can win the White House.

Trump should focus on his next reality TV show.


©Copyright 2015 Matt Mackowiak distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Mackowiak is an Austin- and Washington-based Republican consultant and president of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC. He has been an adviser to two U.S. senators and a governor, and has advised federal and state political campaigns across the country.

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