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Talk of guns in cinemas and Holocaust ovens, in the desperate battle to unseat Trump

Desperate to make the cut ahead of the first GOP debate, one low ranking contender has been smashing up his mobile phone on Youtube.

THERE ARE, BELIEVE it or not, 16 republicans vying for their party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

Ever since he threw his hat in the ring, however – one contender’s been stealing the lion’s share of attention.

No prizes for guessing…

21 Source: New Yorker

His outrageous comments about Mexican “rapists” – made during a bizarre, rambling campaign launch – may have lost him some business, but have done nothing to dent Trump’s popularity with a certain section of GOP voters.

A CNN headline yesterday summed it up pretty well:

tr Source: CNN

The broadcaster’s poll showed the outspoken businessman leading the field, with 18% support amongst republicans. Next best was Former Florida governor (and brother of George W) Jeb Bush at 15%, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on 10%.

A poll of New Hampshire voters, by NBC, reflects that pattern: Trump is on 21%, ahead of Bush (14%) and Walker (12%).

A poll by YouGov puts Trump even further ahead – on 28%.

you Source: YouGov

Getting noticed…

Trump’s uncompromising manner and nothing-to-lose attitude mean he has something of an advantage over conventional politicians.

The fact that he’s managed to build up such momentum in spite (because of?) his headline-generating comments about immigrants means that his opponents – current or former elected representatives, for the most part – have had to ramp up their own rhetoric to compete with him.

  • Example #1:Mike Huckabee

The former Arkansas governor, who lost out to John McCain for the GOP nomination in 2008, generated controversy at the weekend with comments about the Iran nuclear deal.

Obama was so naive about the Middle Eastern nation that he had agreed to deal that would “take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven,” the former Fox News presenter said.

Huckabee, who has promised to rescind the nuclear deal on his first day in office, told Breitbart News the “idiotic” agreement simply had to be scrapped.

Huckabee Iran Mike Huckabee Source: Associated Press

  • Example #2: Rick Perry

The former Texas governor made a fresh pitch to the gun lobby at the weekend, saying people should be allowed bring firearms into cinemas.

A shooting last week in Louisiana showed gun-free zones are a “bad idea,” he said.

I believe that, with all my heart, that if you have the citizens who are well trained, and particularly in these places that are considered to be gun-free zones, that we can stop that type of activity, or stop it before there’s as many people that are impacted as what we saw in Lafayette.

erry Source: CNN

  • Example #3: Lindsey Graham 

The low-polling South Carolina Senator – perhaps spurred by the adage that actions speak louder than words – was shown destroying his mobile phone in a Youtube clip.

Why? Donald Trump had given out his number during a rally.

Source: IJReview/YouTube

Why so outrageous?

In tandem with having to fight the other second-tier contenders for attention from a news media still fascinated by Trump, there’s also the small matter of the first debate to worry about.

A candidate needs to place in the top ten in an average of national polls to meet the criteria Fox News has set, in order to take to the stage next week in Cleveland.

“If you’re not on the stage you’re irrelevant, you don’t matter,” Republican pollster Frank Luntz told AP.

Unless you have some serious ad dollars, it’s not a glass ceiling. It’s a concrete ceiling.

Looking at the current numbers, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former New York Governor George Pataki, ex-Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and South Carolina’s Graham are outside the top ten.

Also close to the edge are Ohio Governor John Kasich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie – along with Perry.

Huckabee, while probably in with a good shout to make the first debate, also needs to do everything he can to stay part of the conversation (he’s polling seventh).

If a candidate doesn’t make the cut, by Fox’s criteria, they’ll be relegated to a debate among second-string candidates, broadcast before the main event.

wpid-ricky-bobby 'If you're not on the stage you're irrelevant, you don't matter.'

In-fighting

Struggling to stay in the race, some of the lower-ranked candidates have been lashing out at Trump in recent days.

Perry, for instance, unloaded on the property magnate last week, calling him a ”barking carnival act” and labeling his campaign a  ”toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense”.

Graham (who’s even further behind, remember) called him a “jackass” after Trump said John McCain was “not a war hero”. (McCain served as a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War, was captured after his plane was shot down and held for more than five years as a prisoner of war).

The increasingly shrill tone of the debate may be bad news for the Republicans in the longer term, analysts have noted.

Curt Anderson, a strategist advising Jindal’s campaign, wrote in the Wall Street Journal last week that the party was sabotaging itself by controlling the debates too much, after concluding that marginal candidates dragged 2012 nominee Mitt Romney too far to the right during the primary process.

“They have come out to limit the number of debates we can have, they dictated who can have it, where you have it and who will moderate it,” Anderson said later in an interview.

The only thing left is to dictate what can be said in it.

GOP 2016 Trump Border

Smack-down

The headline-grabbing tactics from the right have reached such a level in recent days, even President Obama has felt the need to get involved.

Breaking with protocol on his African trip, he accused the candidates of violating a time-honoured American tradition of not playing “fast and loose” on topics of grave concern like foreign policy.

“These are leaders in the Republican Party,” he said.

The American people deserve better. Certainly presidential debates also deserve better.

He even singled out Huckabee for particular attention, suggesting his comments on Holocaust ovens were a ploy to “get attention” – or to push Trump out of the headlines.

Includes reporting from Associated Press. 

Read: This controversial brain surgeon is running for the White House … his announcement was very (very) odd 

Read: Nun charged after voting for her deceased friend

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