A Black Lives Matter protestor briefly interrupted a Donald Trump campaign event in Alabama over the weekend, and there's video
that suggests the African-American protester was punched and kicked by white men at the event.
Asked about the incident, the Republican presidential hopeful responded
, "[M]aybe he should have been roughed up."
Soon after, Trump turned to Twitter to share a racially charged image
with crime statistics that were entirely incorrect.
It was probably about this point that many Republican insiders and party officials slapped their foreheads, realizing not only that Trump's message is resonating with many GOP voters, but also the fact that they have no idea how to interrupt his rising support.
Republican insiders are, however, eager to try. Politico reported
last week that John Kasich's super PAC is "planning to invest $2.5 million in the most aggressive takedown" of Trump to date. The article added, "Rather than go after Trump for his business dealings or his past support for liberal causes, as some of his opponents have tried to do, the super PAC will paint Trump as someone who would be a deeply ineffective commander-in-chief and ill suited for the demands of the Oval Office."
The Wall Street Journal reported
on a related effort from the GOP establishment, which includes "the first attempt to unite donors from rival camps into a single anti-Trump force."
A well-connected GOP operative is planning a “guerrilla campaign” backed by secret donors to “defeat and destroy” the celebrity businessman’s candidacy, according to a memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. [...] The most concerted effort is Trump Card LLC, the self-styled guerrilla campaign being launched by Liz Mair, the former online communications director of the Republican National Committee. “In the absence of our efforts, Trump is exceedingly unlikely to implode or be forced out of the race,” according to the Trump Card memo.
Let's unwrap this a bit, because it's likely to have a significant impact on the Republican race.
First, the fact that these punches are being telegraphed so publicly seems odd. My suspicion is the organizers are leaking plans in the hopes of getting donors' attention, but talking about the prospect of future attacks, rather than simply attacking, is generally an ineffective way to go.
Second, as Rachel reported on the show
a couple of months ago, this will hardly be the first organized anti-Trump initiative, and if there's one thing we learned from the previous iterations, it's that Republican insiders have often been unsure how to even try to slow Trump down.
And third, there's no reason to assume this new offensive will be any more effective. The effort from Kasich's super PAC, for example, will reportedly be marshaled by Republican ad-maker Fred Davis, perhaps best known for his "demon sheep
" and "I'm not a witch
And what of Liz Mair's parallel campaign against Trump? The WSJ report added:
Ms. Mair’s anti-Trump effort is planning an especially blunt and direct approach. The group’s memo said it would be pitching opposition research to media in early-voting states, as well as radio and television ads and Web videos that attract media attention based on their “outrageousness and boundary-breaking or bizarre nature.” One possible ad would link Mr. Trump’s views and style to his celebrity foe, Rosie O’Donnell, in hopes of provoking a reaction from Mr. Trump, according to the memo.
This kind of tactic hasn't had much luck so far, but it'll be a gambit worth watching.