On “Meet the Press” the other day, host Chuck Todd asked Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump a good question: “Who do you talk to for military advice right now?” Given the importance of policy advisers on shaping a candidate’s vision – Jeb Bush turns to Paul Wolfowitz, for example – it’s worth knowing who has Trump’s ear.
“Well, I watch the shows,” Trump replied, referring to assorted public-affairs programs. “I mean, I really see a lot of great, you know, when you watch your show and all of the other shows and you have the generals and…”
Reminded that every presidential hopeful tends to have a few experts they turn to for guidance, Trump started throwing out various names, apparently off the top of his head. “I mean, I like Bolton,” he said, referring to former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.
To be sure, I’m all for people watching news programs on TV – I’m especially fond of one show in particular – but the idea that a leading presidential candidate receives guidance on national security issues from “the shows” seems a little alarming.
But Republican voters just don’t seem concerned. Take the new, national CNN poll, for example..
Still, Trump has quickly won the trust of Republican voters on several top issues. According to the poll, 45% say they trust Trump more than any other Republican candidate on the economy – up 25 points since June, 44% say they trust Trump over the others on illegal immigration – up 30 points since June – and 32% trust him most to handle ISIS, no other candidate comes close on any of these issues [emphasis added].
On that last point, the question in the poll was pretty straightforward: “Regardless of who you are voting for, which Republican candidate do you think can best handle ISIS?” Trump led his next closest competitor, Jeb Bush, on this question, 32% to 14%.
Remember, Trump’s plan to confront ISIS is, according to the candidate, still largely a secret, though he recently outlined a plan in which he’d “bomb the hell out of the oil fields” and then let ExxonMobil “rebuild them so fast your head will spin.” (Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno wasn’t impressed with the strategy.)
As for the race overall, Fox News’ national poll released yesterday showed Trump with a big lead over the rest of the Republican field, and the new CNN poll released this morning points in a similar direction.
1. Donald Trump: 24% (up five points from CNN’s poll in July)
2. Jeb Bush: 13% (down two points)
3. Ben Carson: 8% (up four points)
4. Scott Walker: 7% (down three points)
4. Marco Rubio: 7% (unchanged)
6. Rand Paul: 6% (unchanged)
7. Carly Fiorina: 5% (up four points)
7. John Kasich: 5% (up one point)
9. Chris Christie: 4% (unchanged)
9. Ted Cruz: 4% (down two points)
9. Mike Huckabee: 4% (down one point)
12. Rick Santorum: 1% (unchanged)
Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore were included among the choices, but each received less than 1%.
Trump’s 24% is the most support any Republican candidate has received in any CNN poll this year, which suggests the debate and subsequent Megyn Kelly controversy did little to derail his ascension, and may have actually helped him a bit.