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News Wednesday, Dec 16 2015

Trump's Dominance Has The GOP Field Using His Rhetoric And Policy Proposals

Dec 16, 2015

No candidate used last night’s GOP debate to meaningfully criticize Donald Trump’s proposed Muslim ban. Jeb Bush — who maintains he’ll support a Trump nomination — was the only candidate who dared challenge Trump at all, but the worst he had to say about the ban is that it “resonates politically,” but would be counterproductive in terms of anti-ISIS coalition-building. Ted Cruz said, “I understand why Donald made that proposal.” Rubio refused to be critical or call it unconstitutional. Overall, everyone mostly just tried to avoid talking about the ban at all.

Here’s why: 60% of GOP voters support Trump’s ban — Rubio, Cruz, and everyone else have nothing to gain, and plenty to lose, by standing up to Trump.

That’s why the GOP candidates aren’t trying to distance themselves from Trump. Think about all the name-calling and posturing we saw last night — the other candidates are actually starting to talk and act like him, as the Washington Post’s Philip Bump pointed out this morning:

[W]hen the candidates talked about foreign policy, they talked about it in positively Trump-ian terms: Who was “winning,” and why it wasn’t America.

Whether intentional or not, their Trump-ian affectations did nothing to convince us they’re able talk about foreign policy with any coherence or nuance:

  • “For us to think that we’re going to in there and fix that with a couple of little bombs and a few little decorations is relatively foolish”;

  • “It’s not a lack of competence that is preventing the Obama administration from stopping these attacks. It is political correctness”;

  • “I’ve been saying, ‘take the oil, take the oil.’ I didn’t say, ‘just bomb it'”;
These are real things candidates said last night — and only one of them was said by Donald Trump.

The GOP field’s foreign policy talk wasn’t impressive, but their loyalty was an inspiration: By the end of last night’s debate, as at its beginning, every candidate on stage remained pledged to support a Donald Trump nomination.

Published: Dec 16, 2015

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