In an amazingly awful speech in Phoenix Saturday night, Donald Trump went from being a painfully unfunny one-man sideshow on the traveling GOP clown bus to instead becoming an uncomfortably bad reminder of who the Republican party and who the GOP's 50-state Southern Strategy is built around.
Trump’s 70-minute address here, which sounded more like a stream-of-consciousness rant than a presidential-style stump speech, put an exclamation point on his bombastic push since his presidential announcement last month to return immigration to the forefront of the national conversation.
Bush and illegal immigrants were not the only targets of Trump’s scorn: He also criticized Macy’s, NBC, NASCAR, U.S. ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and, several times, the media.
Republican leaders say they believe the celebrity billionaire has virtually no chance of being their nominee, much less of making it to the White House. And, for now at least, his following seems limited to the far right as opposed to the party’s mainstream.
Yet Trump has reignited a heated debate over an issue, immigration, that the GOP had been determined to settle after it hurt Republicans in the most recent presidential election.
Party leaders increasingly fear that Trump could do damage to more viable candidates, such as Bush, who could lose their own footing on immigration. These candidates confront a familiar challenge: During the primary season, they must deal with the anger and anxiety that many on the right feel about illegal immigration. But they must do it in a way that will not damage their appeal to a broader electorate in November 2016.
Republicans are handling Trump delicately for another reason as well: They fear that he could leave the GOP entirely and wage a well-funded third-party campaign, a possibility that Trump has not ruled out.
On the other hand, Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Robert Costa are 100% wrong on one point: being the party of white resentment towards Latinos didn't hurt the GOP one bit in 2014. Republicans racked up the highest House margin they've had in generations and won control of the Senate.
So pay careful attention to the Republicans trying to run away from Trump's obvious hatred and bigotry. The Rpeublican base is 100% built on this and has been for years, and the difference is they get out and vote.
This is who they always have been. And the politics of white resentment still wins in America.