The Corner

Attacking Trump, Ineffectively

In response to Re: Spain

I don’t think that this line of attack on Trump is going to be effective at reducing his support. Republican voters are used to being told that the candidates they like are dangerous extremists, and to writing off that criticism. So even when there is some truth to the charge, it is one to which they have antibodies. And his supporters are not going to be swayed from Trump by hearing that he says things that people think are outrageous. That’s part of what they like about him.

What might work is to hit Trump where he’s strong in public opinion but not in reality: immigration. He criticized Mitt Romney for being too tough on illegal immigration, and he favors an amnesty (albeit a bizarre and expensive form of amnesty). If I were running an anti-Trump ad campaign, that’s what I’d point out. But a lot of the anti-Trump donors, I’m betting, don’t want to attack him from the right on immigration.

(To clarify where I’m coming from here: I don’t want Trump to be the nominee, but I also don’t think he is likely to be the nominee. So I don’t think that it’s a vital necessity to run a barrage of anti-Trump ads to stop him. I’m just commenting on what ads I think might work and might not work.)


Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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