The Corner

Politics & Policy

The ISIS Debate Is Now an Immigration Debate; Of Course, That Helps Trump.

Are you ready for Donald Trump’s war on terror? According to ABC News’ new poll out this morning, most Republicans are:

Forty-two percent of leaned Republicans say they trust Trump over his top four opponents to handle terrorism; his nearest competitor, Bush, gets just 18 percent. Trump prevails by a slightly wider margin on trust to handle the economy, with 47 percent versus 15 percent for Carson.

Trump also leads, with 45 percent, in trust to handle immigration — Rubio’s next with 18 percent — and to handle tax policy — 42 percent for Trump while the rest clumped behind. That leaves just one issue tested on which Trump doesn’t prevail: trust to handle health care; 35 percent pick Carson, a retired neurosurgeon; 26 percent, Trump.

Back on September 28, Trump said:

Let Syria and ISIS fight. Why do we care? Let ISIS and Syria fight. And let Russia, they’re in Syria already, let them fight ISIS. Look, I don’t want ISIS. ISIS is bad. They are evil. When they start doing with a head chopping and drowning of — these are really bad dudes. So, I don’t want to — but let them fight it out. Let Russia take care of ISIS. How many places can we be? 

But by November 13, Trump was no longer touting the virtues of letting Russia take care of them. He mentioned his understanding of the threat with his characteristic humility and pledged o bomb the [excrement] out of them.

“I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me. I would bomb the [ bleep ] out of them. (Applause) I would just bomb those suckers. And, that’s right, I’d blow up the pipe, I’d blow up the re — I’d blow up every single inch. There would be nothing left. And do you know what? You will get Exxon to come in there in two months. They will rebuild that sucker brand new, it will be beautiful … and then I would take the oil.”

Interestingly, since Paris, President Obama has been eager to shift the discussion away from how his administration reacts to the intelligence about ISIS — remember, 50 intelligence analysts claimed their reports on ISIS were being turned into “happy talk” by senior officials — or the rate of air raids against ISIS or domestic surveillance. No, President Obama wants the post-Paris discussion to focus on Syrian refugees, and cast anyone who wants a pause as a panicking xenophobic racist.

Thus, the public debate about what to do about the threat of terrorism becomes an immigration debate — and in that context, no one should be surprised that it helps Trump.

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