Repub­li­can can­di­dates find ways to use Trump to their ad­van­tage

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY KELLY RIDDELL

Don­ald Trump may be caus­ing headaches for many Repub­li­can can­di­dates, but some have fig­ured out a way to har­ness the mav­er­ick bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man to their ad­van­tage.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has led the way by high­light­ing ar­eas where he agrees with Mr. Trump and then us­ing the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial front-run­ner to get more at­ten­tion for him­self — such as when Mr. Cruz in­vited Mr. Trump to a rally to op­pose the Iran nu­clear deal.

Terry Sul­li­van, cam­paign man­ager for Sen. Marco Ru­bio’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, called it a smart move. “None of you peo­ple would have cov­ered it oth­er­wise,” he told re­porters at a fo­rum this week hosted by Na­tional Re­view.

Bobby Jin­dal, mean­while, is us­ing in­sults to try to lure Mr. Trump into a one-on-one food fight, which the Louisiana gover­nor hopes will raise his own pro­file as the press cov­ers the brash Mr. Trump in yet another scuf­fle.

“You have to be able to do it all in a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, push and ar­tic­u­late pol­icy, to dis­tin­guish your­self from the other can­di­dates, and when you see some­thing hap­pen­ing like the Trump phe­nom­e­non, where you have a can­di­date who is bad for con­ser­va­tives, bad for the party and bad for the coun­try, you have to be able to stand up and con­front it,” said Timmy Tee­p­ell, Mr. Jin­dal’s cam­paign man­ager.

Mr. Jin­dal gave a scathing news con­fer­ence this month at the Na­tional Press for can­di­dates who are not polling as high as Mr. Ru­bio.

“If you’re not en­gag­ing Trump, you risk com­pletely fall­ing out of the con­ver­sa­tion,” Chip Eng­lan­der, cam­paign man­ager for Rand Paul, said at the Na­tional Re­view fo­rum Mon­day.

Mr. Trump has been push­ing the Repub­li­can Party into ar­eas where many can­di­dates pre­fer not to be. He has helped force immigration to the top of the is­sues for many Repub­li­can pri­mary vot­ers and sent fel­low can­di­dates scram­bling to re­cal­i­brate their own stances.

That played out par­tic­u­larly poorly for Wis­con­sin Gov. Scott Walker, who suf­fered a se­ries of em­bar­rass­ing immigration-re­lated stum­bles, in­clud­ing a flipflop on the is­sue of birthright cit­i­zen­ship.

Mr. Walker took aim at Mr. Trump Mon­day as the gover­nor with­drew from the pres­i­den­tial race, call­ing on fel­low can­di­dates to also con­sider drop­ping out so “vot­ers can fo­cus on a lim­ited num­ber of can­di­dates who can of­fer a pos­i­tive con­ser­va­tive al­ter­na­tive to the cur­rent front-run­ner.”

Repub­li­can in­sid­ers fear the ef­fect Mr. Trump is hav­ing.

“He just doesn’t care how this ends for the GOP, only for Trump,” said Rick Wil­son, a Florida-based Repub­li­can con­sul­tant. “He’s got a hard base that loves it, but that hard base is about 9 per­cent of the gen­eral elec­tion model. At a time when the GOP should be propos­ing a for­ward-look­ing, op­ti­mistic vi­sion of the post-Obama era, he’s locked a lot of the field into a doom-and-gloom theme of de­cline.”

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