The Corner

Politics & Policy

Has Trump Finally Jumped The Shark?

Donald Trump told Fox News after the last debate in Milwaukee that he was in a “diplomatic” phase of his campaign. No longer. This Washington Post report of Trump’s rally in Iowa last night is a must read. Trump’s popularity has always been based in part on his entertaining qualities. But apparently his audience wound up seeing a darker side last night.

For an hour and 35 minutes, Republican front-runner Donald Trump vented about everything that’s wrong with this country and this election.

Gone was the candidate’s recent bout of composure and control on the campaign trail…..

Trump launched into a lengthy critique of Carson, who is well-liked in Iowa and has at times beat Trump in polls here. The Iowa caucuses are often dominated by evangelicals, many of whom have been captivated by Carson, who talks endlessly about his faith.

Carson wrote in his autobiography that as a young man he had a “pathological temper” that caused him to violently attack others — going after his mother with a hammer and trying to stab a friend, only to have the blade stopped and broken by the friend’s belt buckle. In recent days, those accounts have come under scrutiny, and Carson has had to clarify or correct some of the details.

Trump said Carson has a “pathological disease” with no cure, comparing it to the incurable mental conditions of child molesters.

“A child molester, there’s no cure for that,” Trump said. “If you’re a child molester, there’s no cure. They can’t stop you. Pathological? There’s no cure.”

With his voice growing louder and louder, Trump questioned what sort of person would attack his mother. He questioned how a belt buckle could stop a blade, stepping away from the podium to demonstration how such an attack might happen and how his own belt buckle wouldn’t stay in place long enough to stop a knife.

“Anybody have a knife?” Trump asked the audience, which was screened by Secret Service agents who began protecting him this week. “You want to try it on me?”

Trump was flabbergasted: “How stupid are the people of Iowa? How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?”

And Trump said he doesn’t believe that after just a few hours of reflection, Carson found God and overcame his violent temper.

“He goes into the bathroom for a couple of hours and he comes out and now he’s religious,” Trump said. “And the people of Iowa believe him. Give me a break. Give me a break. It doesn’t happen that way. It doesn’t happen that way… Don’t be fools, okay?”

The audience laughed at times and clapped for many of Trump’s sharp insults. But an hour and 20 minutes into the speech, people who were standing on risers on the stage behind Trump sat down. The applause came less often and less loud. As Trump skewered Carson in deeply personal language, a sense of discomfort settled on the crowd of roughly 1,500. Several people shook their heads or whispered to their neighbors.

 

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