A the Republican debate last Saturday, which I didn’t see, this occurred:
TRUMP: George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East.DICKERSON: But so I’m going to — so you still think he should be impeached?BUSH: I think it’s my turn, isn’t it?TRUMP: You do whatever you want. You call it whatever you want. I want to tell you. They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.(BOOING)DICKERSON: All right. OK. All right.Governor Bush — when a member on the stage’s brother gets attacked…BUSH: I’ve got about five or six…DICKERSON: … the brother gets to respond.BUSH: Do I get to do it five or six times or just once responding to that?TRUMP: I’m being nice.BUSH: So here’s the deal. I’m sick ask tired of Barack Obama blaming my brother for all of the problems that he has had.(APPLAUSE)BUSH: And, frankly, I could care less about the insults that Donald Trump gives to me. It’s blood sport for him. He enjoys it. And I’m glad he’s happy about it. But I am sick and tired…TRUMP: He spent $22 million in…(CROSSTALK)BUSH: I am sick and tired of him going after my family. My dad is the greatest man alive in my mind.(APPLAUSE)BUSH: And while Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe. And I’m proud of what he did.(APPLAUSE)BUSH: And he has had the gall to go after my brother.TRUMP: The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign, remember that.
Now, it is gospel on the left that (a) the notion that Bush 43 “kept us safe” is laughable when you take into account, as you should, 9/11/01 and (b) the justification for the Iraq War was based on known lies.
What’s remarkable is that these things were said (a) by a Republican candidate for President (b) on national television (c) to Bush’s brother (d) just before a primary in a Southern state which loves the Bushes.
For any other candidate, that would have been political suicide. But the first post-debate poll, and from a reliable polling firm, too, tells us this:
Donald Trump is the clear front-runner heading into Saturday’s South Carolina Republican primary.
A new Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday found Trump leading in the crucial third-nominating state by a large margin.
According to the poll, 35% of likely Republican voters supported Trump. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tied for second with 18%.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) trailed in fourth with 10%, while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson each captured 7% of the support.
So once again, the notion that Trump “went too far” never proved reliable. I’m not particularly surprised anymore. Also, as the transcript above shows, Bush didn’t really hit back so much as clutch his pearls (“Oh, how dare he!”).
I still believe that Trump has a ceiling. But we won’t know what it is until the establishment candidates — who remain at this point to be Kasich, Bush and Rubio — unite behind one candidate. I don’t see that happening before Super Tuesday, which may just mean that Trump will have the momentum to be unstoppable.