Will trump tower?

Su­per Tues­day prom­ises to be rous­ing, as Repub­li­can can­di­date Don­ald Trump ploughs through the pri­mary sea­son of the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By MICHAEL C. BEN­DEr

STAND­ING on a plat­form be­tween his goldtrimmed Boe­ing 757 and a di­lap­i­dated air­port hangar packed with thou­sands of sup­port­ers – their ear­split­ting screams echo­ing off moldy con­crete walls, rusted pipes and metal doors shed­ding a decade- old paint job – Don­ald Trump deep­ened his voice to ape the Repub­li­can political class that has failed to halt his march to the party’s pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion.

“You know, I get a lot of heat: ‘ He’s not con­ser­va­tive,’” Trump said re­cently on a run­way near Mem­phis, Ten­nessee, mim­ick­ing ri­vals’ com­plaints about his un­ortho­dox political views com­pared to past nom­i­nees. “Folks, I call my­self a com­mon- sense con­ser­va­tive.”

As the sun set be­hind the New York busi­ness­man, long- time back­ers of the party won­dered if their day was done, too.

“Ev­ery­one is hold­ing their breath for the next two weeks,” said Stan­ley Haar, an in­vest­ment man­ager and Repub­li­can donor who said he won’t vote for Trump if he’s the party’s nom­i­nee. “I’ll vote third party.”

The next two weeks are lined up to clar­ify the Repub­li­can nom­i­nat­ing race like no other sim­i­lar stretch of the cam­paign. Head­ing into th­ese piv­otal con­tests, Trump finds him­self on the verge of seiz­ing the nom­i­na­tion with a cam­paign that has be­wil­dered ri­vals and party lead­ers alike, in­clud­ing those who be­moaned Trump’s in­so­lent yet cap­ti­vat­ing tac­tics, but largely stayed on the side­lines.

The sin­gle big­gest day of vot­ing in the Repub­li­can pri­mary is Tues­day ( to­day, Malaysian time), when nearly half of the del­e­gates needed to se­cure the nom­i­na­tion are up for grabs.

Trump is favoured in most of those con­tests, and if he re­peats with con­vinc­ing wins like he had in each of the last three pri­mary con­tests, it would help a clear path to the nom­i­na­tion and de­liver him con­trol of a party that has of­fered dire warn­ings of what such an out­come would mean. He cap­tured al­most 50% of the sup­port in a na­tional CNN poll re­leased Mon­day, 33 points ahead of his near­est com­peti­tor, Sen­a­tor Marco Ru­bio.

“The Repub­li­can Party would be split apart if he be­came the nom­i­nee,” Ru­bio said about Trump on Fri­day in Ok­la­homa City.

Sen­ti­ments sim­i­lar to Ru­bio’s have been ex­pressed by some of the party’s top fig­ures. But lit­tle has been done to stop Trump, who is threat­en­ing to up­end many of the party’s fun­da­men­tal tenets with calls to make it eas­ier to sue, and stand­ing aside as Rus­sia takes the lead in fight­ing Is­lamic State mil­i­tants in Syria.

The last Repub­li­can pres­i­dent, Ge­orge W. Bush, avoided jump­ing into the fray un­til it was too late for his brother Jeb, who sus­pended his cam­paign last week. The last three nom­i­nees have been sim­i­larly ab­sent from bat­tle: Bob Dole praised Trump in or­der to slight Ted Cruz. John McCain backed the long- shot can­di­dacy of his friend, Lindsey Gra­ham, and then, cit­ing the need to de­fend his own Se­nate seat this year, de­clined to en­gage the bil­lion­aire.

Mitt Rom­ney, the party’s nom­i­nee in 2012, called on can­di­dates to re­lease their tax re­turns a month ago, but waited un­til last week to use it as a cudgel against Trump. Rom­ney waited un­til Mon­day to force­fully re­ject Trump, do­ing so in a tweet. “A dis­qual­i­fy­ing & dis­gust­ing re­sponse by @ re­alDon­aldTrump to the KKK. His cod­dling of re­pug­nant big­otry is not in the char­ac­ter of Amer­ica,” he said.

In the mean­time, Trump has gained sup­port from 43% of likely Repub­li­can vot­ers in Mas­sachusetts, where Rom­ney was a pop­u­lar gov­er­nor be­fore seek­ing the White House.

“I feel so strong, I feel so great,” Trump, talk­ing about his poll num­bers, told a crowd of more than 7,000 peo­ple in Madi­son, Alabama, on Sun­day.

As Trump has gained pop­u­lar­ity af­ter mock­ing the dis­abled and pris­on­ers of war, sev­eral pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates made fee­ble at­tempts at stop­ping him. For­mer Texas Gov­er­nor Rick Perry and Gra­ham both said Trump would spell disas­ter for the party should he be­come the nom­i­nee, but they had nei­ther the sup­port nor the money to make that ar­gu­ment stick.

“My party has gone batsh**** crazy,” Gra­ham said Thurs­day in Wash­ing­ton, call­ing Trump a “nut job.”

Bush’s team had more money than any­one. But when the pro- Bush su­per- political ac­tion com­mit­tee that paid for the bulk of Bush TV cam­paign fi­nally at­tacked, many of those spots were trained on Ru­bio.

Liz Mair, a for­mer Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee spokes­woman, was among the first to wage an anti- Trump cam­paign in Novem­ber. Her group’s pitch to donors was that a Trump nom­i­na­tion would hand Hil­lary Clin­ton, the front- run­ner for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion, the pres­i­dency.

But prospec­tive donors told her they wouldn’t do­nate be­cause they were con­vinced to only give to Right to Rise, the pro- Bush su­per- PAC. It “was very ir­ri­tat­ing, and con­trib­uted di­rectly to the prob­lem,” she said. “It’s clear that some­one in Jeb Bush world has got a lot to an­swer for there.”

Ru­bio’s sup­port­ers com­plained about the at­tacks from Bush, but the sen­a­tor’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign ag­gres­sively avoided Trump’s at­ten­tion. Ru­bio crit­i­cised Trump’s call to ban Mus­lim im­mi­gra­tion in the wake of ter­ror­ist at­tack in San Bernardino, but promptly made a sim­i­lar ap­peal by sug­gest­ing he’d sup­port sur­veil­lance on mosques.

In many ways, Ru­bio has mod­elled his own cam­paign on Trump’s.

The au­thor of the im­mi­gra­tion re­form bill that passed the Se­nate in 2013 with bi­par­ti­san sup­port, Ru­bio now wants to first seal the bor­der. Ru­bio says his po­si­tion changed not af­ter Trump found suc­cess in call­ing for a wall along the US- Mex­ico bor­der, but be­cause of the rise of the Is­lamic State mil­i­tant group in the Middle East.

Most re­cently, Ru­bio has shed his cau­tion and, like Trump, in­cludes a caus­tic com­edy rou­tine as part of a re­vamped stump speech. Ru­bio has shown he can give as good as he gets, crack­ing up crowds by in­sult­ing the front- run­ner as a con man and a fraud who would be hawk­ing watches in New York City if he hadn’t been born the son of a real es­tate mogul.

On Sun­day in Vir­ginia, Ru­bio said Trump doesn’t sweat “be­cause his pores are so clogged from all that spray tan” and said that Trump had tiny hands.

“You know what they say about guys with small hands,” Ru­bio told a crowd of about 2,000. “You can’t trust them.”

“Ru­bio should have done this weeks ago,” Patti Smith, a Repub­li­can voter in Ok­la­homa, said af­ter Ru­bio’s rally in Ok­la­homa City on Fri­day. Smith said she’s back­ing Ru­bio, but said it might be too late for him. “They’re all in­tim­i­dated by Trump.”

Ru­bio’s be­hav­iour isn’t com­pletely out of char­ac­ter. In Florida, he’s well known for a quick, bit­ing wit. As state House speaker, he would reg­u­larly tease col­leagues in front of the full cham­ber. As the Florida House ma­jor­ity leader, a po­si­tion that func­tioned as the party’s at­tack dog in the leg­is­la­ture, he would fire off bit­ing press re­leases that left Democrats in a mix of anger and ad­mi­ra­tion.

“Marco has enough sense to smile while he cuts you,” said Dan Gel­ber, who was Ru­bio’s Demo­cratic coun­ter­part in the House. “He does it in such a col­le­gial way that you’ll be laugh­ing. He’s like the Steph Curry of the Repub­li­can Party – the baby- faced as­sas­sin.”

For some how­ever, Ru­bio’s caus­tic per­sona reeks of in­con­sis­tency and fur­ther val­i­dates their feel­ings that Trump- who has switched po­si­tions on abor­tion, mil­i­tary fund­ing, and taxes over the years- is the archetype of au­then­tic­ity.

“He’s try­ing to do Trump, but it’s mak­ing him sink even lower,” Craig Nakutis, a 45- year- old Trump backer in Jack­son, Ten­nessee, said about Ru­bio, whom he ini­tially sup­ported. “I thought he was go­ing to be bet­ter than he was, but it’s a lit­tle too late. And Trump is com­ing into his own.”

For his part, Trump is em­brac­ing his role, re­fer­ring to him­self as the mes­sen­ger of a political move­ment dur­ing a week­end cam­paign swing through the South.

“There has never been any­thing like this that has ever hap­pened,” Trump said in Madi­son. “I don’t want any money, I don’t need any money, I need you to do one thing,” Trump said. “We’ve got to win by a lot. We knock the hell out of ev­ery­body. The move­ment is go­ing.” – Bloomberg

repub­li­can Us pres­i­den­tial can­di­date don­ald Trump in ac­tion at a cam­paign rally at Val­dosta state Univer­sity in Val­dosta, Ge­or­gia on Mon­day. — reUTers

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