During his announcement to run for president Donald Trump said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” He stated his distaste for John McCain, a former presidential candidate and a famous prisoner of war, by stating, “He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Still, Trump dominates in every poll, across different demographics and in all the early primary states.
Trump is known as a real estate mogul; he owns hotels, golf courses, casinos, and other developments across the globe. He starred in the successful NBC show “The Apprentice,” which then turned into “The Celebrity Apprentice.” These shows made Donald Trump into a reality television star and household name. On his rise to stardom, however, he found himself in the midst of many controversies, both inside and outside of the political realm.
In response to Rosie O’Donnell’s criticism for not revoking the crown of 2006 winner Tara Conner for underage drinking, Trump told People Magazine that O’Donnell was “a woman out of control” and “a real loser.”
Trump’s frequent insults directed at the former host of “The View,” as well as many other women, came back to haunt him politically in the August of 2015 presidential debate in Cleveland. Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly asked Trump if he had the temperament of a United States president when he has called women, “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.” Trump’s immediate response was, “Only Rosie O’Donnell.” Even despite this, and his arguably sexist response about Kelly “bleeding out of her wherever…” Trump seems to be on the path to win the Republican nomination.
Dr. Colin Swearingen of the John Carroll University Political Science Department said, “He says some crazy things, he says some inflammatory things.”
“He doesn’t mind insulting other candidates in the Republican Party or other people, like Megyn Kelly,” Swearingen continued. “But I think people can look past that to a certain extent because he is not PC [politically correct]… he’s basically saying what he thinks in the moment, and I think people appreciate that.”
Political pundits are beginning to see that it does not matter what Trump says, what matters is that he’s taking a stand and doesn’t care what people might think of him. His attack on political correctness is allowing him to gain credibility with voters. In such an “anti-establishment” election, as described by commentators at “Meet the Press,” statements like Trump’s that cause controversy are welcome, instead of hated.
Trump supporter Jan Marianno, a retired teacher, told The New York Times, “Even if he doesn’t win, he’s teaching other politicians to stop being politicians. He comes on strong. He could say it gently. But I think no one would listen.”
The question now for Trump and his supporters is, “Will he last the whole race and win the nomination?” Swearingen does not seem to think so, saying, “A good friend of mine works for Huffington Post and does their election prognostications and she has written that at this point in time about 75% of primary voters are not paying attention.”
Despite the doubts by political analysts, other Republican candidates seem intimidated by Trump’s poll numbers. Often times, they are more focused on what the media is stating about “the Donald” or how voters view them in comparison to Trump. When Jeb Bush, a GOP favorite, rolled out his new tax plan in early September, he stated, “He [Trump] has to propose things and he has to be serious about it. If he wants to be a serious candidate, he has to act like a serious candidate.” Even if Bush, the other candidates and political analysts do not seem to think that Trump is a “serious candidate,” early polling numbers show that the voters do take Trump seriously.
Editor’s Note: Information from The New York Times, CBS and Dr. Colin Swearingen were used in this report.