Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pushing Back

Donald Trump continues to thumb his nose at the establishment. Whether it’s the RNC, Washington politicians, the national media or the conventional rules of decorum; none are sacrosanct in Trump’s world. “I say what I say…and if you don’t like it…” says the never apologetic Trump.

So far it’s working.

Trump spent the past forty eight hours engaging in behavior that would kill the political career of any other politician.

You are no doubt aware of the dustup between Trump and FOX NEWS over anchor Megyn Kelly’s questioning of Trump during the debate. FOX NEWS president Roger Ailes had reached out to Trump and it appeared that fences had been mended.

Kelly, who anchors FOX NEWS’ “The Kelly File” returned from a two week vacation on Monday night. Trump took the opportunity to Tweet that he preferred the show without Kelly and that he hoped she would take another unscheduled vacation…soon. He then went on to call Kelly a “bimbo.”

Trump’s unprovoked attack stunned and angered Ailes who thought that a truce was in place. The respected news mogul normally does not lower himself to respond to lowly politicians. He simply unleashes his powerful “news” organization to bury them. Pity the conservative politician that dares to cross FOX NEWS. But this was Trump and Ailes thought he had been wronged.

Ailes fired off an unprecedented response in which he ripped Trump’s behavior, defended his anchor and called on Trump to apologize. One by one each of the FOX NEWS personalities piled on in like kind.

Unbowed, Trump defiantly refused to apologize; demanding instead that Kelly apologize to him.

Last night Trump traveled to Dubuque, Iowa where he was scheduled to hold a brief press conference before giving a stump speech to supporters.

Trump was systematically calling on reporters when UNIVISION anchor, Jorge Ramos interrupted Trump and began what amounted to a long winded speech criticizing Trump’s stance immigration. Trump told Ramos to sit down and wait until he was called upon. Ramos defiantly persisted with his rant. Trump eventually looked toward security who escorted Ramos from the room.

Trump was immediately asked if removing Ramos was the right thing to do. Trump said that Ramos was interrupting him, that he would be happy to have Ramos return and that he would be happy to answer Ramos’ questions. Ramos did return…Trump took his question…and he and Ramos engaged in a lengthy and heated debate over Trump’s immigration policies.

Trump, Ramos and UNIVISION have a history. UNIVISION is THE news source for the Hispanic community; boasting a viewership that exceeds all the other cable news network’s combined. Jorge Ramos is a highly respected news anchor for UNIVISION. Ramos is so highly regarded that he has been referred to as the Walter Cronkite of the Hispanic community.

UNIVISION was scheduled to air Trump’s Miss Universe Pageant but pulled the plug when Trump made his derogatory comments about immigrants crossing our borders. Trump has since sued UNIVISION for $500 million for breach of contract.

Ramos has tried for months to get Trump to sit down for an interview. Trump has rebuffed the ever persistent Ramos; going so far as to publish a letter Ramos had written to Trump that included Ramos’ private phone number.

Both men came into that room looking for a confrontation. Ramos pushed Trump’s buttons and Trump did not back down.

Backing down is not in Trump’s DNA.

The Des Moines Register is the largest newspaper in the key primary state of Iowa. The Des Moines Register Editorial Board recently criticized Trump’s campaign and called on him to bow out of the race. Trump responded by barring the newspaper’s reporters from his events.

I don’t know anything about running for public office but it seems to me that pissing off the most powerful men in the conservative and Hispanic news media would not be the way to go. But this is Trump and when it comes to Trump conventional wisdom need not apply.

Trump is the clear Republican frontrunner in all the national polls. A recently released state poll in New Hampshire shows Trump holding 35% of the vote among likely primary voters. That's up from 24%. That’s TRIPLE the support of his closest challenger, John Kasich…and DOUBLE the combined support for establishment candidates: Bush, Walker and Rubio. South Carolina shows Trump similarly positioned; widening his lead to double the numbers of his closest rival.

Toward the end of last night’s press conference Trump made an off the cuff comment that I think best explains his early success in this campaign.

A reporter asked Trump why he engages in these late night Tweets and harsh attacks. He said: “When you are pushed you push back. I think we could use a little more of that in this country.”

Apparently voters agree.

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