Trump the bold. Trump the straight shooter. Trump, who tells it like it is. Trump the sniveling, whining, three year old who blows a gasket if anyone says anything about him he doesn’t like. Marco Rubio on Trump:
“First of all, he takes shots at everybody that gets anywhere close to him, in terms of a poll, or anytime he hits a rough spot that’s what he does,” the Florida senator said of Trump on Kentucky Sports Radio.
“He had a really bad debate performance last week,” continued Rubio. “He’s not well informed on the issues. He really never talks about issues and can’t have more than a 10-second soundbite on any key issue. And I think he’s kind of been exposed a little bit over the last seven days, and he’s a very touchy and insecure guy and so that’s how he reacts, and people can see through it.”
Trump singled out Rubio in two campaign stops in South Carolina this week, labeling him a “lightweight,” sweaty, and financially unsuccessful.
As if to prove Rubio’s point, Trump wants the FCC to fine Fox News analyst Rich Lowry for saying that Carly Fiorina “cut [Trump’s] balls off with the precision of a surgeon.” And he has threatened to sue Club for Growth for running negative ads against him. Boo-hoo, poor Donald. But last night in South Carolina at a candidate forum that was 1/3 empty, Trump went into an epic whine about the media, and hurled insult after insult at his opponents:
But Mr. Trump kept up his grumbling there. He used a news conference before the forum to continue a recently renewed feud with Fox News, mock a conservative group that is airing attack ads against him and complain to an NBC reporter that the network is citing a CNN poll that shows Ms. Fiorina gaining support rather than NBC’s own survey, which shows Mr. Trump holding a larger lead.
And when he took the stage with Mr. Scott, two well-appointed chairs awaiting them, Mr. Trump decided to first stand and offer his own preamble before the question-and-answer session with the senator.
Holding up a printout of a Florida newspaper, he twice read a headline referring to Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Jeb Bush: “Rubio passes Bush in Florida poll.”
Then, with a flourish, he read the lead of the article, which noted that Mr. Trump was still enjoying a strong lead among Florida Republicans.
“They don’t even put me in the headline, and I’m crushing it,” he said. “The press is very dishonest. Not all of it, but much of it.”
Mr. Trump began his remarks in the first event in almost the exact same way. He noted that he was not in the headline, but concluded by flinging the piece of paper he was reading into the crowd in the fashion of a rock star flicking his guitar pick at a fan.
Perhaps conscious of the empty seats in the back of the room, he repeatedly commented on the size of the audience and said he had added the event to his schedule with little notice.
But, more troubling for a candidate who is heavily reliant on television coverage, there were only a handful of TV cameras in the back of the room, and the national cable stations spent little time on the event. MSNBC carried it for less than four minutes, CNN around six minutes and Fox did not carry the speech at all.
Claiming that CNN added time to the Republican debate last week to bring in more ad revenue, he asserted that the temperature hit triple figures inside the Reagan Library.
“Let’s let these suckers stand up there for another hour in a room that was 100 degrees,” Mr. Trump said, mimicking unnamed CNN executives. “That room was hot. I mean, poor Chris Christie.”
The audience broke into laughs and cheers, and for good measure, Mr. Trump noted that Mike Huckabee and Mr. Rubio were also very sweaty at the end of the debate (“He was soaking wet,” Mr. Trump recounted of Mr. Huckabee).
He can’t criticize Christie, Rubio, or Huckabee based on their policy positions because he’s ignorant. So, like a juvenile, he mocks their physical appearance. I recall that sort of thing was fashionable back in the 4th grade, but I can’t remember a presidential candidate acting so much like a child.
Mr. Trump did not attack his opponents as fiercely in the exchange with Mr. Scott as he had earlier in the day, but the presidential hopeful did seize more opportunities to grouse about news media coverage. “I’m much smarter than any of these talking heads,” he said. “Ninety percent of them are morons.”
Yet Mr. Scott gently steered the conversation toward policy issues and, as the hourlong event neared its end, Mr. Trump made clear that he had had enough.
The senator said he was down to his final two or three questions, to which Mr. Trump responded, “Good!”
As an emotional lightening rod for everything that has enraged right wingers and Republicans during the Obama years, Trump is a cathartic symbol. But eventually, more people are going to wonder what exactly Mr. Trump has to offer in the way of concrete policies. At that point, with the attention of the entire nation directed toward him, it will be interesting to see if the candidate has anything to offer America besides whines and rants and name calling.
I’m betting he doesn’t.