Even as he appeared to be closing out his rivals in his improbable race for the Republican nomination for president, Donald Trump still sounded like someone from the mean streets, not an inherited-wealth spoiled kid taking his ease in his Mar-a-Largo Florida resort.
Trump stumbled by failing to adequately reject the endorsement offered by the white supremacist David Duke, but he charged on Tuesday as if nothing happened. And when House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Republican Party “does not prey on people’s prejudices,” Trump verbally smacked him, saying that if he and Ryan didn’t get along, “he’s going to have to pay a big price.” Even now, when he seems on the verge of becoming the GOP’s presidential nominee, Trump continues his undisciplined, raw and often offensive blustering.
Trump has captured the disgruntled mood of Republicans and quite likely a good many Democrats, many of his constituents being struggling working folks who are angry about a lot and satisfied with little. In this primary season, they’re coming out to vote, and they gave Trump seven victories on Super Tuesday. His rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio had disappointing showings that gave little encouragement to Republicans hoping for Anybody But Trump.
Mainstream Republicans, who cast their lot with John Kasich of Ohio and, previously, the hapless Jeb Bush of Florida, now are trying to spread the word that a Trump nomination will keep the GOP out of the White House – and perhaps even out of majorities in the House and Senate – for years to come. But it isn’t just about Trump. Republicans have done little to expand their base. As the number of minority voters increases, the percentage of them who identify with Republicans decreases.
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And the chronic attacks on President Obama – having gone on since his first day in office – raise suspicion that a substantial part of that opposition is connected to the fact that he is the first African-American president.
So it’s no surprise that Trump would draw the support of someone like Duke. Trump was the original “birther,” suggesting that Obama is not a natural-born American citizen and ineligible to be president. Even now, polls show a hefty number of Trump supporters believe the president, a Protestant, is a Muslim.
Meanwhile, in the calmer Democratic race, Hillary Clinton, former secretary of state, has widened her lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. That race is virtually over, though Sanders has tapped into a strong vein of economic dissatisfaction.
But the chances of Democrats’ unity at their convention are a better bet in one of Trump’s casinos than a coming-together of Republicans. Unless it’s a coming together to take Trump outside and have him “pay a big price.”