Donald Trump has advocated a wall on the Mexican border, the deportation of 11 million immigrants, has attacked the entire Muslim community and has watched almost contentedly as his campaign rallies have featured fisticuffs. Every time he’s said something outrageous, from nicknaming his rival Ted Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted” to even criticizing the appearance of one-time rival Carly Fiorina, his poll numbers have gone up.
The reason? Trump has harnessed the anger in one part of the American electorate, and anger unfortunately can bring people together.
But now, in response to some tough questioning from MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Trump has said in effect that abortion should be banned and that women who receive abortions, if the procedure is banned, should be “punished.”
This time, it appears, the numbers may not skyrocket. And within hours of the Donald’s latest outrageous statements, his campaign was doing the old “clarifying” routine. Trump’s campaign said, well, he really doesn’t believe women should be punished.
Trump managed to offend those on both sides of the abortion rights issue.
Pro-life groups condemned him for his view that women should be “punished,” saying that is not their intent in their opposition to abortion rights. Pro-choice groups said making abortion illegal and punishing women who seek an abortion would lead back to the days of dangerous, “back alley” abortions for poor women and the secretive, safe medical procedures that always have been available to those of means.
And Trump’s shadowed also by his former stance in favor of a woman’s right to choose. The most conservative groups in the Republican Party — to which he’s also something of a late-comer — have never been certain that Trump is really one of them.
All this came as Trump and his more ardent supporters believed he was steamrolling his way to the Republican nomination, against the establishment Republican wing that believes his nomination would almost certainly hand the White House to the Democrats.
But Cruz holds a formidable lead in the polls preceding next week’s Wisconsin primary, and a big win there would slow the Trump Train and perhaps change the view of his invincibility.
Trump’s bombast may this time have cost him, at long last. The candidate who opened his race by talking about how rich he was, how confident he was, how he could solve all the problems of the world, from foreign policy in which he has no experience to everybody-gets-rich economic polices, has now dug a hole big enough to swallow his ego and his candidacy.