Low-polling Republican presidential candidates attempted to cast doubt on lead rival Donald Trump on Wednesday, venting their frustrations at the state of the 2016 race by calling the billionaire a fake conservative with a checkered business past.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former New York Governor George Pataki led the charge against Trump at a debate of four candidates who did not have enough strength in opinion polls to make it to a prime-time debate later.
The so-called “undercard” debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library of four candidates immediately preceded the main event featuring Trump and 10 other Republicans who are doing the best in the polls.
In their bid to stop Trump’s rise, a variety of Republican candidates have piled on the billionaire businessman as a politician who has supported Democratic priorities in the past, such as higher taxes. Jindal, one of Trump’s sharpest critics, quickly picked up on that theme.
“Let’s stop treating Donald Trump like a Republican,” Jindal said in response to a question about his criticism of the Republican front-runner.
“He’s not a conservative. He’s not a liberal. He’s not a Democrat. He’s not a Republican. He’s not an independent,” Jindal said. “He believes in Donald Trump.”
Pataki was similarly biting in his criticism of Trump, whose unexpected rise in the polls has put pressure on the other 15 Republican candidates to respond. Pataki has vowed not to support Trump if he is the nominee for the November 2016 election but insisted he does not think Trump will get that far.
“Donald Trump is not going to be the Republican nominee, period. I guarantee you that,” said Pataki.
He said Trump’s experience in the casino business in Atlantic City, New Jersey, was instructive of the type of businessman he is.
“Every one of those casinos went bankrupt, over 5,000 Americans lost their job,” Pataki said. “He didn’t lose anything. … He will do for America what he did for Atlantic City and that is not someone who we will nominate.”
Tempers flared as the candidates debated what to do about illegal immigration, Trump’s signature issue.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has backed comprehensive immigration reform, said it would be impractical to try to deport 11 million illegal immigrants.
He mocked former Senator Rick Santorum’s own failed attempt at an immigration plan when Santorum was still in office in 2006.
“It went nowhere,” Graham told Santorum.
The former senator from Pennsylvania shot back: “You’re right, Lindsay, it went nowhere because we had a president back then who was for more comprehensive immigration reform than I was,” Santorum said.
Responded Graham, “George W. Bush! Who won with Hispanics!”
Santorum replied, “We need to win fighting for Americans.”
“Hispanics are Americans,” Graham said, getting applause.
All four candidates declared Democratic President Barack Obama’s handling of Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq as a disaster.
Graham was insistent in saying the United States should raise its troop level in Iraq from 3,500 to 10,000 to more effectively take on Islamic State, and called for sending American troops into Syria as part of a regional army. He expressed concern about the ability of militants to strike targets within the United States.
“We’re in a war, folks,” he said.
Trump’s next 100 days will dictate whether he can be re-elected or not — here’s why
According to CNN pollster-in-residence Harry Enten, Donald Trump's next 100 days -- which could include an impeachment trial in the Senate -- will hold the key to whether he will remain president in 2020.
As Eten explains in a column for CNN, "His [Trump's] approval rating has been consistently low during his first term. Yet his supporters could always point out that approval ratings before an election year have not historically been correlated with reelection success. But by mid-March of an election year, approval ratings, though, become more predictive. Presidents with low approval ratings in mid-March of an election year tend to lose, while those with strong approval ratings tend to win in blowouts and those with middling approval ratings usually win by small margins."
After Trump: No free pass for Republicans — they own this nightmare
With the impeachment inquiry leveling up this month as public hearings begin, and with an election that might actually be the end of Donald Trump now less than a year away, the campaign to let Trump's Republican allies — even the most villainous offenders — move on and pretend this never happened is already underway.
This article first appeared in Salon.
Sadly, the clearest articulation of the let-bygones-be-bygones mentality has come from a Democrat — unsurprisingly, former Vice President Joe Biden.Biden, who is still, somehow, the frontrunner in Democratic primary polling, spoke at a chi-chi fundraiser on Wednesday, and dropped this pearl of wisdom: "With Donald Trump out of the way, you’re going to see a number of my Republican colleagues have an epiphany."
As climate crisis-fueled fires rage, fears grow of an ‘uninhabitable’ California
As activist Bill McKibben put it, "We've simply got to slow down the climate crisis."
With wildfires raging across California on Wednesday—and with portions of the state living under an unprecedented "Extreme Red Flag Warning" issued by the National Weather Service due to the severe conditions—some climate experts are openly wondering if this kind of harrowing "new normal" brought on by the climate crisis could make vast regions of the country entirely uninhabitable.