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Paul Albaugh / February 26, 2016

How to Attack Trump

The Donald’s record is appalling.

Donald Trump’s ascension to the head of the pack of the Republican primary field is an incredible phenomenon. To be sure, most conservative Americans are sick and tired of Republican politicians compromising on their principles and selling out to the demands of their Democrat opponents. Overall, conservatives are sick of Washington politicians, the GOP establishment and the cronyism that creeps into most of their deals.

As such, many voters have turned their support to Trump. He’s an outsider, not an insider; he’s a businessman, not a politician; he supposedly tells it like it is, instead of being politically correct; and his campaign is self-funding — or at least that’s what he’d like us to believe, contrary to the facts — which supposedly allows him to claim that he can’t be bought by special interests. All of this sounds great, and Trump has used these qualities to his advantage, capitalizing on an enraged electorate and soaring in popularity among his supporters.

Yet there’s something missing from the qualities that separate him from the remaining candidates: He’s not a conservative. In fact, he’s a big-government statist, which makes him as likely to abuse executive power as Barack Obama.

He knows that he’s winning and we know that he likes to win — a fact he repeats at every turn, which works exceptionally well with his rhetoric: “America doesn’t win anymore, and we’re going to start winning again.” Lather, rinse, repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

Thus far, he’s defied the odds. Trump has received an exorbitant amount of media coverage and has appealed effectively to the emotions of legions of angry Americans — all while managing to avoid being attacked by his two closest challengers, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

Until Thursday night’s debate, anyway.

Instead of going after Trump, Cruz and Rubio have been relentlessly attacking each other. It’s as if they think that whoever can destroy the other first will win second place. But second place is the first loser. And if the battle between the top two conservative candidates continues, then we’ll be left with a non-conservative Donald Trump.

On Thursday night, it appeared Cruz and Rubio got the message. They went on offense against Trump, attacking his background, his record, his ideology, his proposals, his speaking style and more. Last night, Trump’s two strongest challengers finally realized that failing to go after the frontrunner and failing to draw clear distinctions between his record and theirs is a losing strategy. Time will tell if they waited too long.

If Trump is not exposed now, then he will win the nomination and face an onslaught of relentless attack ads from the entire Democrat machine, including the Leftmedia. The mainstream media are keeping their powder dry, enjoying this ratings bonanza until Trump secures the nomination. Then they’ll destroy him.

So what exactly should Rubio and Cruz attack Trump for? There’s plenty to go on.

First, they could go after what Stuart Stevens, who was Mitt Romney’s senior strategist, calls “the essence of Donald Trump.” He notes, “Donald Trump is a ridiculous figure. He’s not a particular business success. Four bankruptcies! He doesn’t have a junior-high-school-level understanding of policy — he doesn’t know what the nuclear triad is. You’ve got to turn to Donald Trump in a debate and say, ‘You’re a ridiculous figure. You don’t know what you’re talking about. And this tariff idea will cost jobs, it will damage the economy, just like you bankrupted Atlantic City.’” (Granted, Romney lost, but his senior strategist is pointing out a lesson learned: If you don’t go after a candidate for who he is, then you’ll lose. Romney rarely went after Obama for who he was — a narcissistic socialist who despises the very things that made America great. And he lost.)

Second, Cruz and Rubio could explain that Trump’s business record is very questionable, specifically that under his leadership he bankrupted a casino, that he has already declared his support of Planned Parenthood and ObamaCare (including praising a single-payer system), that he’s faking his religion simply to appeal to evangelicals, and that his whole life has been about him and not the average worker.

Next on the short list is Trump’s “tough on immigration” stance. The issue is one of the most pressing concerns for conservatives, and Trump has capitalized on this better than any other candidate. This has led to what Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute calls “Trumpism”. Murray, among others, recognizes that government officials from both parties have failed miserably on immigration policy, and that American workers are suffering because of it.

He notes, “There is nothing conservative about how they want to fix things. [Voters] want a now indifferent government to act on their behalf, big time. If Bernie Sanders were passionate about immigration, the rest of his ideology would have a lot more in common with Trumpism than conservatism does.”

But Trump’s rhetoric on immigration is quite the opposite of his deeds. In fact it’s downright hypocritical. At Trump’s highly regarded private club Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, he hired only 17 American citizens out of 300 applicants for positions such as waiter, waitress, cook and housekeeper, opting instead for mostly foreign workers. This is quite ironic given Trump’s criticism of Disney for hiring foreign workers under the H1-B Visa program. It turns out Trump and Obama would get along just fine.

Finally, Cruz and Rubio should turn up the heat on Trump to release his tax records. Doing so will reveal to voters where his loyalties truly reside and will very likely show lavish support for leftist causes. Simply follow the money.

And it’s not just Cruz and Rubio; the GOP strategists and political consultants need to change as well. Of the $215 million in Super PAC expenditures so far in political ads, only $9 million has been spent attacking Trump. Why?

The same mistake cannot be made this presidential election cycle as was made in 2008 and 2012. In 2008, moderate John McCain was defeated by a neophyte liberal socialist. In 2012, mild-mannered Mitt Romney was defeated by the incumbent liberal socialist. America won’t start winning again until a principled conservative is the Republican nominee, and his name is not Donald Trump. The clock is ticking. That’s why it was good to see some play-calling adjustments from Rubio and Cruz.

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