An influential conservative magazine published an editorial on Thursday urging Republicans to rally against front-running presidential candidate Donald Trump, with Iowa poised to begin the search for a 2016 nominee in 10 days.
National Review, a New York-based magazine founded in 1955 by famed conservative thinker William F. Buckley Jr., drew heavy scorn from Trump on Twitter and at a Las Vegas news conference for its issue entitled: "Against Trump."
"Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP (Republican Party) in favor of a free-floating populism with strong-man overtones," National Review said.
The magazine's argument is one that has been made by several of Trump's rivals for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, most notably by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
But nothing has stopped Trump from seizing control of the race and putting him in position to win not only Iowa's caucuses, but also New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary on Feb. 9.
A CNN/ORC poll on Thursday said Trump had taken a solid lead over Texas Senator Ted Cruz in Iowa, with 37 percent to 26 percent for Cruz. Cruz has led other polls in Iowa.
National Review said Trump, a New York billionaire real estate developer and former reality TV star, had in the past supported abortion, gun control and higher taxes on the wealthy, all positions that conservatives oppose.
The issue's cover read "Cage Match - The GOP's Internal Fight" and portrayed a bare-chested, double-chinned Trump, with a necklace of dollar signs tattooed across his torso, flanked by four less-muscular rivals for the Republican crown.
Trump waved off the attack in characteristic fashion.
"The late, great, William F. Buckley would be ashamed of what had happened to his prize, the dying National Review!" he tweeted.
"Against Trump" began trending on Twitter in the United States by Friday morning. Most of the response on the social media site was negative toward "National Review," with several Twitter users expressing dismay over the conservative publication's decision to criticize the Republican presidential front-runner for the November election.
"National Review is leading a coalition against Trump," wrote Jeff Fogle (@jefffogle342). "We the people will get him in office if we push hard. Stick together! We can do it!!!"
"Without any sense of self awareness @nro [National Review] ignores ]its] attacks on conservatives last 2 cycles," tweeted Madlaw (@madlaw1071).
Jack Fowler, the publisher of the "National Review," said in a post published late Thursday night that the publication was being "disinvited" from its partnership with the GOP debates.
"Tonight, a top official with the RNC [Republican National Committee] called me to say that "National Review" was being disinvited," Fowler wrote. "The reason: Our 'Against Trump' editorial and symposium. We expected this was coming. Small price to pay for speaking the truth about The Donald."
At a Las Vegas news conference, Trump said he would bring Republicans together if nominated.
"Honestly the party has to be healed, has to be brought together and I think the party can be brought together," he said.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Dan Grebler)