Republican candidate Donald Trump on Friday won the surprise endorsement of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the most prominent mainstream Republican to get behind the former reality TV star's White House campaign.
The endorsement gives Trump a further lift before next week's Super Tuesday nominating contests. It comes just a day after he took a battering from his two main rivals at a televised Republican debate
Trump is "rewriting the playbook," said Christie, 53, who until two weeks ago was himself a rival for the Republican nomination. Christie dropped out after failing to muster much support for his candidacy. Reuters/Ipsos polling data on Friday showed Trump ahead nationally in the Republican race with support at 44.2 percent, followed by Cruz at 20.7 percent and Rubio in third place at 14 percent.
Donald Trump was asked Sunday during an interview on CNN whether he disavows the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacy groups. His response: He said he needed to research the groups before doing so.
Earlier this week, former KKK leader David Duke said that voting for anyone but Trump "is really treason to your heritage," although he stopped short of endorsing the Republican front-runner. On Friday, Trump said he disavowed Duke. The issue came up again during CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday morning, with host Jake Tapper repeatedly asking Trump whether he condemns the racism of Duke and other white supremacists. Trump repeatedly said he would have to research the people and groups concerned before doing so.
"I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists," Trump said. "So, I don't know. I don't know. Did he endorse me? Or what's going on? Because, you know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists. And so you're asking me a question that I'm supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about."
The headlines are mostly trumpeting (heh!) the Donald’s victory in seven states last night, but the delegate count suggests that the victory was far from overwhelming, and the Republican race is far from over. According to The Post, Trump will receive approximately 234 delegates, Ted Cruz 209, Marco Rubio 90, John Kasich 19 and Ben Carson 3. So the total delegate count last night was approximately Trump 234, non-Trump 321. And in the end, Trump needs to get a majority of delegates, not just win vote pluralities.
I understand that many of the upcoming states will be winner-take-all, and this puts Trump in the driver’s seat. But many analysts expected Trump to win 10 states (all but Cruz’s home state of Texas) and to create an insurmountable delegate lead. That didn’t happen; not only did Trump lose four states, but he came within three percentage points of losing an additional three states (Arkansas, Vermont, Virginia).
Trump is still the front-runner and likely to remain in that position, but a contested convention has become more likely. And if Cruz and Rubio could work out a president-vice president deal soon, that would make a Trump defeat even more likely. As Yogi Berra famously said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
Trump is, of course, a joke when it comes to discussing policy details. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have a real agenda. Indeed, in the United States it's actually common for ideologically rigorous candidates — including mostly conservative Republicans but also Bernie Sanders — to speak in terms of grandiose and likely unachievable visions rather than in wonkish, nitty-gritty details.
And what is Trump's agenda? A revived and unapologetic American nationalism, which will stand for American interests abroad while defending the traditional conception of the American nation at home. This line runs through Trump's views on a wide range of issues:
On trade, he wants to revise existing deals and replace them with ones that the United States will "win."
On foreign policy, he is suspicious of idealistic ventures but willing to be maximally brutal and maximally avaricious when force does need to be used. On drug prices, he wants the US government to stop acting like the biggest sucker in the world by letting itself get ripped off by rootless multinational firms. On immigration, what really needs to be said. Trump's speeches these days also loudly and proudly invoke support for veterans and law enforcement, identifying his movement with the agents of the state. More subtly, Trump breaks with conservative orthodoxy by opposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare, positions that research by Donald Kinder and Cindy Kam find to be associated with white ethnocentric sentiment.
Laws that keep the U.S. military from waterboarding and torturing Islamic State militants are making America weak, Donald Trump said Sunday, and he plans to change them. Asked by CBS’s “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson about his shifting statements on controversial interrogation practices like waterboarding and torture, Trump said laws prohibiting the U.S. from engaging in such techniques put America at a disadvantage.
“I think we are weak. We cannot beat ISIS. We should beat ISIS very quickly. General Patton would have had ISIS down in about three days,” Trump said, referring to the World War II military commander. “Look, we have an enemy in the Middle East that's chopping off heads and drowning people in massive steel cages, OK? We have an enemy that doesn't play by the laws,” he added. “They're laughing at us right now. I would like to strengthen the laws so that we can better compete. You know it's very tough to beat enemies that don't have any, that don't have any restrictions, all right?”
Trump, who has himself been quick to threaten a third-party run for the White House, expressed surprise and disappointment that more mainstream Republicans have grown vocal about their distaste for Trump and talked openly of plans to fight him all the way to the Republican convention if necessary. The billionaire real estate mogul pointed to his strong poll numbers and high turnouts in GOP primaries and caucuses as evidence that he can unify the party.