Trump, Cruz, and Rubio Continue to Exchange Attacks In Eleventh Republican Debate

With time running out, the top three candidates for the Republican nomination picked up right where they left off last week.

Eleventh Republican Debate

To a large degree, the eleventh Republican debate picked up where the tenth debate had left off, with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz aggressively attacking Donald Trump on a policy and personal level while John Kasich attempted to float above it all and present himself as the only adult in the room:

Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, fighting for their political lives, relentlessly demeaned and baited Donald J. Trump at Thursday’s debate, all but pleading with Republicans to abandon a candidate with a long history of business failures, deep ties to the Democratic Party and a taste for personal insults.

Warning that Mr. Trump would lead the party to a historic defeat in November, Mr. Rubio and Mr. Cruz delivered their attacks with urgency, as if trying to awaken voters who had fallen under Mr. Trump’s spell. Mr. Rubio derided Mr. Trump as untrustworthy and uncivil, while Mr. Cruz bashed him for donating money to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and to other Democrats. Mr. Trump looked on with disgust, but as in their 10 previous debates, he seemed impervious and perhaps unstoppable.

At times, the face-off in Detroit also deteriorated into the kind of junior high school taunts that have startled many Republican elders but have done little to dent Mr. Trump’s broad appeal. As Mr. Trump and Mr. Rubio traded insults over their manhood, Mr. Trump recalled Mr. Rubio’s innuendo that Mr. Trump’s “small hands” correlated with another part of his anatomy.

Mr. Trump, who has boasted about his sexual exploits, insisted that nothing was small about him. “I guarantee you,” he continued with little subtlety, “there’s no problem. I guarantee you.”

The two senators repeatedly urged Republicans to align against Mr. Trump in nominating contests over the next two weeks, saying that Mr. Trump could sew up the nomination even though a majority of voters so far have cast ballots for other candidates.

“Two-thirds of the people who cast a vote in a Republican primary or caucus have voted against you,” Mr. Rubio told Mr. Trump. “The reason why is because we are not going to turn over the conservative movement or the party of Lincoln or Reagan, for example, to someone whose positions are not conservative.”

The pleas reflected not only Mr. Trump’s advantage in the race, but also the party’s growing disquiet about the implications of nominating him. The specter of Mr. Trump as the Republican standard-bearer has long troubled both establishment-aligned and conservative leaders. But his initial hesitation to condemn the Ku Klux Klan in an interview on Sunday, and his success in seven states on Super Tuesday, have set off a new wave of anxiety that Mr. Trump could tarnish the party this year and perhaps beyond.

Still, in a striking moment, all of Mr. Trump’s rivals on stage indicated that they would support him if he became the Republican nominee. The consensus was especially unusual in the case of Mr. Rubio, who has been caustically attacking Mr. Trump as a “con man.”

While Mr. Rubio savaged Mr. Trump repeatedly on Thursday, Mr. Cruz combined his jabs with high-minded appeals to conservatives. He emphasized his support for a “simple flat tax” and a strong national defense, trying to position himself ahead of Mr. Rubio as the more competitive candidate against Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cruz also appealed directly to Mr. Trump’s supporters by saying that their desire for a political outsider to lead the country was misplaced.

“For 40 years, Donald has been part of the corruption in Washington that you’re angry about,” Mr. Cruz said. “And you’re not going to stop the corruption in Washington by supporting someone who has supported liberal Democrats for four decades, from Jimmy Carter to John Kerry to Hillary Clinton.”

“Donald Trump in 2008 wrote four checks to elect Hillary Clinton as president,” Mr. Cruz added, turning to Mr. Trump to demand why he had done so.

“Actually, it was for business,” Mr. Trump said, before noting that he had also given to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Mr. Trump found himself on the defensive throughout the night, challenged by his rivals and the Fox News moderators to explain his inconsistent stands in the past. He also had to defend himself against a movement begun earlier Thursday by Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, who shredded Mr. Trump as a “phony” and a “fraud” who must be blocked from the nomination.

Mr. Trump, offered the chance to respond to Mr. Romney with harshness or with substance, chose the former.

“He was a failed candidate,” Mr. Trump said. “He should have beaten President Obama very easy.”

(…)

Mr. Rubio, his voice ragged, appeared frustrated at times as he repeatedly sought to sow doubts about Mr. Trump. He has been trying for months to catch fire against Mr. Trump, whom he holds in low regard on policy matters, and now the Florida primary looms as make-or-break for Mr. Rubio’s candidacy.

“You have yet to answer a single serious question about any of this,” Mr. Rubio said, referring to Mr. Trump’s generalities on foreign affairs. As Mr. Trump responded by reiterating praise he had received from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Mr. Rubio threw his arms up and turned away in exasperation.

If Mr. Trump struggled to deflect the attacks on his character, business sense and political viability against Mrs. Clinton in the fall, he seized opportunities to reassure conservatives that he would be a forceful commander in chief. Questioned by the moderators about his past advocacy for torture and for killing the families of terrorists, Mr. Trump stood firm and argued that “we should go tougher than waterboarding.” Pressed about whether military officers would carry out such orders — killing terrorists’ family members would violate the Geneva Conventions — Mr. Trump offered a boast.

“If I say ‘do it,’ they’re going to do it,” he said.

At another point, in a rare concession from Mr. Trump, he acknowledged that he was “changing” one of his positions in the highly charged immigration debate and was now open to offering visas for highly skilled foreign workers. He also lamented that foreign citizens “go to the best colleges” in America and “as soon as they are finished, they get shoved out,” and said he was “softening the position because we have to have talented people in this country.”

While his shift could appeal to some business leaders and moderate voters he would need in a general election, his campaign also issued a statement after the debate saying he would “institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exception.”

Mr. Trump’s shifting positions have been a target for months, but during this debate, his rivals received help from the Fox News debate moderators. They played a compilation of video clips in which he was depicted changing his mind on issues like the war in Iraq. Mr. Trump was then asked directly if he had “a core.”

“I have a very strong core, but I have never seen a successful person who wasn’t flexible,” Mr. Trump said.

More from The Washington Post:

The calamity brought upon the Republican Party by Donald Trump was laid bare Thursday by its two most recent presidential nominees, who delivered unprecedented denunciations of the candidate that set the stage for a raucous evening debate.

Mitt Romney awoke from his political hibernation to deliver a sweeping, point-by-point indictment of Trump — of his policy proposals, his business dealings, his erratic judgments, his moral character, and his insults to women, Latinos and the disabled. The former GOP nominee, who sought and accepted Trump’s ­endorse­ment in 2012, implored Republicans to now reject the billionaire he labeled “a phony” and “a fraud.”

Trump’s three rivals took up similar attacks later Thursday night at a Fox News Channel debate in Detroit in which the ferocious sparring and name-calling revolved almost entirely around the front-runner.

What started with Trump asserting that he was well endowed in a rejoinder to Rubio’s campaign-trail joke about his manhood devolved into an ugly affair, with the candidates yelling over each other, at times unintelligibly, as they sought to discredit one another.

Taken as a whole, the day only served to harden the divisions tearing the GOP apart and raise dire doubts about whether its factions could unite in the general election.

It began at sunrise in Palm Beach, Fla., where Trump phoned into network television shows to mock Romney as a failed politician. Then, in Salt Lake City, Romney gave his speech asserting that Trump was a danger to the nation and to democracy itself; in Washington, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) shared in the dismay; in Trenton, N.J., Gov. Chris Christie called a news conference to insist he was not a prisoner of Trump’s; and in Portland, Maine, Trump rallied fans by demeaning Romney with crude language.

The events culminated at nightfall in Detroit, where Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich faced Trump and tried desperately to score points against him.

The very first question was aimed at Trump, and for the next two hours the moderators and candidates quizzed, scrutinized and mocked the front-runner. He was on the defensive through much of the event, struggling to explain many of his policy ideas as well as defend his hiring of foreign workers and the manufacturing of Trump-branded clothing overseas.

“You’re making your clothes overseas, and you’re hiring your workers overseas,” Rubio said at one point, referring to the widespread use of foreign workers on visas at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach.

Trump acknowledged that he brings in foreign workers to do jobs on work visas at his club and, defending himself, said it is difficult to get American employees to work in service for the five-month period he called “the season.”

“We will bring them in and bring them out,” he said to boos.

Trump reversed himself on a key part of his immigration platform, calling for an increase in visas for highly skilled foreigners. “I’m changing,” he said. “We need highly skilled people in this country.”

Trump added, “With immigration — as with anything else — there always has to be some tug and pull and deal. . . . You have to be able to have some flexibility, some negotiation.”

The evening’s fireworks came when the candidates, exhausted after three months of breakneck campaigning, leveled caustic attacks at one another.

“This little guy has lied so much about my record,” Trump said of Rubio, whom he repeatedly called “Little Marco.”

One of the lowest points of the night came near the start, when Trump responded to a joke that Rubio had told days earlier about Trump having small hands. “You know what they say about men with small hands,” Rubio said, pausing to let the audience laugh. “You can’t trust ’em.”

“He hit my hands,” Trump said, showing his palms. “Nobody has ever hit my hands. Look at those hands. Are these small hands? And . . . if they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there’s no problem.”

At times, the debate was so focused on the personal that Kasich thundered, “Let’s stop fighting!”

Cruz, too, sought to claim the moral high ground.

“I don’t think the people of America are interested in a bunch of bickering schoolchildren,” he said. “They are interested in solutions, not slogans. It’s easy to say ‘Make things better, make things great.’ You can even print it and put it on a baseball cap. But the question is, do you understand the principles that made America great in the first place?”

Largely on the sidelines during these exchanges was Ohio Governor John Kasich, who pins is remaining hopes in the case mainly on pulling off wins in his home state and, perhaps, in Michigan next Tuesday. For this reason alone, the Governor is getting some good reviews this morning for being the adult in the room among a group of children, but it’s unclear if that’s going to help him going forward. Current polling has Kasich in fourth place in Michigan, for example, and even trailing Trump in Ohio. Unless he’s able to turn that around, it’s hard to see how his campaign continues.

As for the rest of the candidates, it’s about what you’d expect. Instead of a high-minded debate about principles or a wide-ranging policy discussion, which seemingly would have been easier with only four candidates on the stage this time around, though, this eleventh engagement between the candidates quickly descended into the same personal attacks and childish behavior that we saw from the candidates last Thursday, and which continued right up until Super Tuesday. From the perspective of candidates like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, handling the debate in this manner is perhaps understandable since both men are arguably fighting for their political life after Trump has rolled up wins in ten of the first fifteen 2016 contests. For both of them, blunting Trump’s momentum over the next week and a half as the race heads into Michigan, Ohio, and Florida, which could be effectively the final real battle of this campaign, is absolutely essential. Spurred no doubt by the blunt rhetoric of Mitt Romney’s speech earlier in the day, then, they continued to attack Trump as aggressively as possible. Unlike the last debate, though, Trump seemed better prepared for the attacks this time and pushed back with his own brand of vicious, crude, and rude, attacks, at one point taking the debate down a road that no Presidential debate had ever gone down, a comparison of, well, penis size.

Beyond that low point, it doesn’t seem as though there was much real substance from any of the candidates last night, which I suppose is no surprise. As I noted, Rubio and Cruz remain concerned primarily with diminishing Trump in the eyes of voters, and they’ve apparently decided that they way to do that is to attack him personally or on his past record, or to continue with the argument that various candidates have been making since Trump got into the race that he was not a “true conservative.” The problem with that line of attack, of course, is that it clearly hasn’t worked up until now, and there’s little evidence that it is going to work now.  For example, Senator Rubio spent much of the time between the last debate and Super Tuesday attacking Trump on every conceivable level, much to the delight of the crowds that came to his rallies. Cruz did much the same thing, although his attacks focused more on ideology than personality. By the time the results from Super Tuesday were in, it was clear that neither strategy had worked in either blunting Trump’s momentum or propelling the fortunes of the respective attackers. The only possible exception to this observation comes from Virginia, where Marco Rubio did better than expected thanks to voters in Northern Virginia. The fact that Rubio and Cruz are continuing with the same strategy as last week, though, suggests that both campaigns have reached the point where they’re running out of ideas about how to stop Trump. Of course, the fact that both candidates said last night that they would support Trump if he were the nominee tends to undercut the urgency of their claims that he is unfit to be the Republican nominee to begin with.

In the end, I tend to agree with Josh Marshall and others who are positing that the attacks at the debate, along with the attacks from Romney earlier in the day, are unlikely to hurt Trump either in the polls or at the polling place, and that they might actually end up helping him. From the beginning, Trump has reveled in the fact that the ‘establishment,’ whether that means the powers that be inside the Republican Party, the donor class, or the conservative media class, have been against him and that he has continued to outsmart them. Each time one of these attacks has occurred, Trump has only done better in the polls, and that has only helped him as voters have actually voted. There’s no reason to believe that this won’t be the outcome this time around, especially in the upcoming contests that will go a long way toward deciding whether Trump continues what seems like a largely unimpeded march toward the Republican nomination or whether the long-shot effort for a contested convention that Mitt Romney outlined yesterday has even a slight chance for success.

FILED UNDER: General, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. MBunge says:

    Win or lose, it’s going to be fascinating to see what happens post-Trump. For example, a big chunk of the Fox News audience has now seen the network go after someone they like just as viciously as Fox has the people they hate. What is the long term affect of that?

    Mike

  2. C. Clavin says:

    The GOP is busy talking about dick sizes.
    Meanwhile Obamacare has insured 20 million people, cut the uninsured ranks in half, and 242,000 jobs were created in February.
    I hope we can keep adults in office and leave the children in the playground.

  3. CMRivdog says:

    There was a fire this morning at the Detroit water treatment plant. A worker said it was feces burning.

    Fallout from last night’s —-Storm?

  4. gVOR08 says:

    Mr. Trump, offered the chance to respond to Mr. Romney with harshness or with substance, chose the former.

    Well duh.

  5. grumpy realist says:

    @C. Clavin: Regression to primatehood.

    Why doesn’t the Republican Party simply tell all of the clown candidates to whip it out right there and here’s a measuring tape?

    That’s what this has devolved to.

    If we Americans pick Trump as our leader after all this, we deserve every stinkin’ thing that happens to us.

  6. Tony W says:

    I propose Jerry Springer serve as moderator for the next Republican debate.

  7. Argon says:

    The desperation was evident…

    A particularly eviscerating column comes from Jeb Lund in The Guardian:
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/04/donald-trump-republican-debate-performance-detroit

    Fox even demanded that Trump explain how his own absurd tax-cut giveaway to the wealthy is going to correct the federal debt, as well as account for how his prescription drug plan will save taxpayers money while covering all Americans who qualify.

    That’s just how far these people have gone on beyond zebra. After a quarter century of allowing any Republican candidate to generate any trillion-dollar figure by throwing 13 dice in the air and counting whatever numbers appeared — after allowing eight years of “repeal and replace Obamacare” without giving a tinker’s damn about what the “replace” part looked like (if it even existed at all) — a conservative outlet demanded that a conservative explain how supply-side economics works, do something that looked like math and provide a plan that makes sense.

    You know the instruments of the right are losing when they have to move left to correct themselves.

  8. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist: For once I half way agree with Romney. He said vote for anyone but Romney. Vote for Cruz. He’s even more despicable than Trump, but easier to beat.

  9. Tillman says:

    @C. Clavin: best part is how there was a whole exchange on whether Trump could order the military to commit war crimes without them all resigning, and the dick joke is the main takeaway.

  10. Scott says:

    I didn’t watch but what I find fascinating is that Fox apparently get away with being blatantly partisan in a way that other networks cannot.

    I mean, dumping on Trump for his tax and spend plans while not just as accurately dumping on the others/ nonsensical plan? Really?

  11. Modulo Myself says:

    I wonder if Trump gains by boasting about war crimes.

    Our military operated in Iraq with little regard for anyone else’ s existence. One of the main sticking points at the end was whether American soldiers could be tried in Iraqi courts. What does that spell out except that Iraqis were sick of being killed by Americans?

    All of the sanctimonious bs coming from the right, the same people who advocated for Iraq and who said fascist crap like Jonah Goldberg’s ‘we need to smash a country against a wall to show we can’ is fuel for Trump. The fat dweebs who get paid to laud Marco Rubio love war crimes. They just won’t enlist and do them. I suspect that people who actually were in Iraq and who have half a clue at least appreciate his honesty.

  12. Tillman says:

    @Scott: Chris Wallace pulled “Jon Stewart interviews Jim Cramer” tactics on Trump.

  13. Moosebreath says:

    I think this is as good an explanation of Trump and his phenomenon as there is:

    “That’s why he keeps coming back to insult and invective in his speeches and debates, and why it so befuddles those around him. Everyone who faces him — rivals and observers alike — remains convinced that his bullying swagger is a quirk that pops up at inappropriate moments and keeps him from engaging seriously on his positions. They miss the fact that bluster is his position. It’s not a bug in his operating system — it is his operating system.

    Trump himself doesn’t seem to be fully aware of what drives him. Having spent his life in the esoteric world of New York real estate, he shares the assumption of his fellow landlords that swagger and machismo are synonymous with wisdom. Even within that subculture, it’s his conceit that he’s the king of the hill. He’s the one who’s built the tallest, most imposing towers, thrusting manfully upward against the skyline, each with his name emblazoned in gold. His manhood stands tall above the landscape, dwarfing all else.”

  14. John says:

    I couldn’t make it far in that one, even with booze.

  15. J-Dub says:

    Will Marco Rubio accept Trump’s “guarantee”, or will he require some kind of proof, akin to Trump demading to see Obama’s long form birth certificate?

  16. John says:

    I’m not sure if our elite really realizes how lucky they are that Trump isn’t clever enough to properly exploit popular rage.

  17. J-Dub says:

    @Moosebreath:

    He’s the one who’s built the tallest, most imposing towers

    I think that’s what they call compensating…

  18. John says:

    @J-Dub:

    Marla Maples would beg to disagree.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    @Moosebreath: The NYT had a long piece, I think last week, pointing out in detail that Trump is not the King of the Hill in NY real estate, not even a major player anymore. Said the big NY banks won’t lend to him, don’t want to get stiffed again.

  20. Chris says:

    Why have non of the other candidates not attacked Trump on the fact that he openly admitted to Marty that he killed George McFly, or at least have a laugh on stage about that time he drove his car into a manure truck?* I’m sure those sorts of revelations would hurt him

    *This may have been Biff Tannen, I get confused

  21. SenyorDave says:

    @Modulo Myself: I have trouble believing that soldiers who serve in a war zone in the Middle East would like Trump. This is, after all, a man who has criticized John McCain, a man who endured years of torture, for getting captured. And coming from a man who was draft age during the Vietnam War, but spent those years living a life of luxury. I also believe the average soldier is not in favor of the extensive use of torture that Trump promotes. They know that it puts US soldiers at greater risk.

  22. J-Dub says:

    Kudos to Buzzfeed for the headline: “Member of the Republican Party”

  23. Andre Kenji says:

    Trump is not a businessman, he is a celebrity for the sake of celebrity. Some years ago, Some years ago, local media announced that Donald Trump was building a condo with a golf course in Itatiba, the Brazilian city where I happen to live.

    There is no golf course for dozens of kilometers today(The project had problems with environmental licensing), but Trump was simply licencing his name for a local entrepreneur. The local entrepreneur said that Trump got lot of money while doing nothing, Trump called him a “kid that no one knew until then”.

    He is basically something like Kim Kardashian, always selling his celebrity, not hotels or real estate.

  24. CB says:

    I’d like to hear more from the GOP about how Obama has degraded American class and prestige.

  25. MBunge says:

    Why waste time trying to diminish Trump? One of the most ridiculous things I’ve read recently was a guy at Forbes who seemed to think it would be scandalous if Trump was ONLY worth $2.5 billion, rather than $10 billion.

    News flash – Trump is at least as smart as anyone else in the GOP field and, by almost any standard, has accomplished a great deal more in his life than the rest of them put together. He’s not a buffoon. He’s not a fool. He’s not a maniac.

    He is a demagogue who could embolden a lot of ugly forces in the US, seriously damage America’s political and diplomatic position around the world and advance policies that could damage the economy and many other facets of the country.

    On the other hand, he’s probably the candidate least likely to get us into another war. This isn’t the 1500s. Nobody’s going to attack us because Trump insulted their national honor. He’s also the Republican candidate most likely to do SOMETHING about a whole bunch of problems facing the nation, simply because he’s not owned by his fellow pluocrats and not enslaved to right wing ideology.

    Mike

  26. al-Ameda says:

    Trump is the Wizard of GOP Oz.

    Rubio keeps trying to pull back the curtain to show us that Trump is nothing but empty calories, but the GOP public isn’t having any of it – they like what they see.

    The GOP needs a ‘Lloyd Bentsen moment’, when Dan Quayle compared him self to JFK, and Bentsen responded “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.” THAT kind of a moment … The problem is, Rubio isn’t that guy, he just isn’t up to it, he seems like empty calories too. Romney tried, he’s better than Rubio, but Trump called him a loser and the GOP crew said, ‘yeah, you tell him!’

    A Trump and Hillary match-up would bring out the worst in everybody.

    Lay in the popcorn, it’s going to be interesting.

  27. John says:

    @SenyorDave:

    Some men come back from war hawks, some doves, some more conservative, some more liberal, some indifferent to it all. All depends on the individual, really.

  28. Gustopher says:

    I can hardly wait until the general election campaign, when Trump is turning his tiny hands into an advantage by comparing them to Hillary Clinton’s man hands.

  29. John says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I think the creepily authentic @dick_nixon Twitter account once said something about the Texas GOP flirting with secession and them invoking Reagan:

    “Reagan was not a smart man, but he wasn’t politically stupid either. He wouldn’t have tolerated this for a second, I guarantee it.”

    That’s as close as we are going to get given how the Establishment GOP has gone. A guy on Twitter impersonating a dead President.

  30. grumpy realist says:

    Well, someone at MIT has built an AI twitter-bot that sounds a heckova lot like Donald Trump….

    I like the suggestion of mapping all of the primary runners onto AI twitter-bots and just turning them loose on each other.

  31. Kylopod says:

    @al-Ameda: There will be no “Lloyd Bentsen” moment not because there’s no Lloyd Bentsen in this race (though that’s part of it), but because there’s no preexisting narrative that would enable such a moment to devastate Trump the way it devastated Quayle.

    Most people forget that there was nothing unreasonable about what Quayle said. He was asked whether his 10 years in Congress constituted adequate experience for a vp candidate. He replied that it was comparable to or greater than the level of experience of many past vps, and that it was the same amount that JFK had prior to becoming president. (This was not entirely correct: JFK had spent 12 years in Congress, not 10.) He was not comparing himself to JFK. It was exactly the same argument that many Dems have made when defending Obama’s relative inexperience by pointing out that Lincoln was similarly inexperienced before becoming president. You could always retort that “Obama is no Lincoln,” but the point is that either experience matters or it doesn’t; iconic presidents of the past do not get an exemption from the experience rule just because we know in hindsight they were successful presidents. So it is perfectly reasonable for a candidate questioned about his experience to point to successful candidates of the past whose experience was comparable.

    The real reason Bentsen’s comeback was so scathing was that nothing Quayle said could have shaken the reputation he had acquired as a lightweight. “You’re no Jack Kennedy” stung not because it was a logical response to Quayle’s argument (it was in fact a non sequitur) but because most people went into the debate absolutely convinced he was a total doofus, and Bentsen simply called attention to that fact by highlighting how poorly he fared when placed next to a giant of the past.

    Furthermore, what made the moment especially devastating wasn’t just the line itself, it was Quayle’s reaction. He looked like he was about to cry, and he kept saying “That was really uncalled for.” One of the absolute worst things you can do in a presidential debate is show vulnerability. If you don’t believe me, compare Rick Perry’s “oops” from 2012 with the way Ted Cruz made the exact same mistake (forgetting one of the federal departments he intended to close)–except he didn’t say oops, he just blustered his way through the error. So nobody noticed.

    There’s no preexisting narrative about Trump that his opponents can exploit the way Bentsen did with Quayle. There are plenty of areas where they can attack him, and they can do it in a witty and funny way. But no single witty comeback is going to destroy him, because if there’s one thing that’s absolutely indestructible, it’s his complete and shameless megalomania. He can’t be made to look vulnerable, because that would require him to think of himself that way, which is an impossibility. Quayle was destroyed by having his words twisted into a comparison between himself and JFK, and having no quick rebuttal, whereas Trump would happily compare himself to JFK or Martin Luther King or Mother Theresa without breaking a sweat. You can’t Bentsenize someone who doesn’t allow himself to become that sort of target.

  32. Joe says:

    @al-Ameda: Although anything could happen, perhaps Hilary will provide that Lloyd Bentsen moment. After seeing her handle a day long Congressional hearing, can you doubt she far more up to the task than Cruz or Rubio? And how will America perceive it when Trump starts using locker room slurs on a woman? I know it’s Hillary, but some things – admittedly sexist – just play differently between genders. Could go against Hillary, but I think it has a much higher potential to undermine Trump’s approach.

  33. Grumpy Realist says:

    I think that someone should call Trump’s bluff. So he’s such a great negotiator? Have him head off to North Korea to deal with the other megalomaniac.

  34. gVOR08 says:

    @MBunge:

    he’s not owned by his fellow pluocrats and not enslaved to right wing ideology.

    Trump can’t be bought. Trump was born bought.

  35. bookdragon says:

    @Andre Kenji: Now there’s a frightening thought… Trump/Kardashian 2016

  36. the Q says:

    The following was written in the Springfield Gazette in 1858, “the little “Giant” Douglas, realizing he was much “smaller” than his debating opponent, the 6’4 Lincoln, quipped, “we all know why I am called “Giant” to which Lincoln replied, “does that mean you have a giant “Little” or a Little “giant”?

    “The rail splitter then put Douglas in a head lock and gave him noggies.”

  37. Andre Kenji says:

    @bookdragon: Kim Kardashian at least has been never involved with drug dealers and mobsters.