Rick Perry and Donald Trump

photo composition by Thursday Review

Trump Disses Perry as Texan Exits 2016 Race
| published September 13, 2015 |

By Thursday Review staff

Presidential candidate Donald Trump, not one to mince his words or filter his language, has bid farewell to the Republican Party’s first casualty with some barbed words.

“Mr. Perry, he’s gone,” Trump said of former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who suspended campaign activity last week, “Good luck…he was very nasty to me.” Trump went one step further, defending his role as the party’s bully, telling Fox News “it’s an attitude that our country needs. We get pushed around by everybody, and we have to push back.”

Perry’s campaign came to a halt mostly due to lack of cash and a position near the bottom of the polls in a still very crowded GOP contest. Trump remains, for the moment, the party’s front-runner, retaining some 31% support from Republican voters, and pulling alongside Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in several new national polls.

After Trump called Perry a “dummy” and suggested that an IQ test might be required before the Texan could be admitted to any further candidates’ debates, Perry counter-attacked by calling Trump “a cancer on conservatism” and a crass entertainer bent on “self-promotion.” Perry continued to campaign in Iowa during late August despite campaign coffers which had essentially dried up.

Perry’s demise may be reason to celebrate in Trump’s camp, but other Republican candidates are still going full throttle in their attempts to paint Trump as a bully, a flip-flopper in key issues, and a loud-mouth. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, once the presumed party leaders and each at one time the GOP’s polling front-runners, have seen their fortunes fall into single digits during August and early September. Both Bush and Walker have taken off the gloves to hit Trump hard, in essence calling the businessman and real estate mogul an imposter within the Republican Party.

Bush and Walker have taken to more direct attacks on Trump in the last two weeks in an effort to rally traditional conservatives behind their respective causes. The offensives include challenging Trump on his claim of conservative fidelity, and touting Trump’s frequent reversals on key issues ranging from abortion to health care to taxes. Bush, Walker, and now Florida Senator Marco Rubio are also telling voters that Trump is an imposter in the GOP. Trump has switched political parties numerous times in the last decades, changing his affiliation from Republican to Democratic to Republican to Independent, before switching back to the GOP. Trump is currently registered as an Independent.

So far none of the counter-attacks have had much of an impact on Trump’s poll numbers, which have continued to inch upward since his announcement that he was an official candidate. The anti-Trump movement continues to lose ground, in large part because of a massive wave of anti-Washington sentiment now sweeping across the map.

The anti-establishment mood is not limited to the Republican Party. The Democratic Party is also experiencing a deep wave of support for non-traditional candidates as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders continues to gain in popularity and consistently draws huge crowds to campaign events. Sanders has been ahead of presumed-party front runner Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire for more than five weeks, but new polling also shows him now ahead of Clinton in Iowa as well. Back-to-back losses in those two key early caucus and primary states could have a devastating impact on Clinton’s campaign, and may signal a repeat of her failed bid to overtake then-candidate Barack Obama back in 2008.

Meanwhile, some GOP observers suggest that Trump may be doing the Republican Party a favor by winnowing the crowded field. With Rick Perry’s departure, there remain 16 or more candidates in the running. Despite the raucous, bitter battle between Trump and his GOP adversaries, some sober analysts point out that fewer candidates might ultimately diffuse support for Trump, and create a surge of activity toward other party leaders.

CNN will host the next Republican debate, scheduled for Wednesday, September 16. Also on that stage alongside Trump, Bush, Rubio, Walker and others will be pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, both of whom have seen their poll numbers rise steadily amidst that wave of anti-Washington sentiment. Many will be watching to see if their respective performances alter the flow of support toward Trump.

Trump also lobbed barbs at his closest GOP competitor, Ben Carson. Campaigning in Iowa this weekend, Trump indicated that he does not believe that Carson has the backbone or the energy to manage high stakes foreign policy or handle the intensity of day-to-day pressures. Calling Carson “a nice man,” Trump said that Carson did not have the “deal-making skills” required to negotiate with China, Japan and Russia.

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