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Donald Trump Faces Several Tests Before Iowa Caucuses

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Donald Trump Faces Several Tests Before Iowa Caucuses

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By David Lightman, McClatchy Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — The Donald Trump bandwagon has stalled.

His poll leads in Iowa and New Hampshire have shrunk. He’s gotten attention this week largely about whether he’ll stay in the race if his poll numbers tumble. Ben Carson has passed him in some surveys, and other candidates are starting to gain traction.

“It’s wrong to call it a collapse, but there has been a decline,” said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan political analyst.

“At some point the honeymoon ends for every candidate. That’s what’s happening to Trump,” said Craig Robinson, editor-in-chief of TheIowaRepublican.com, a partisan website in the state with the first test in the nomination fight.

Trump fired back Tuesday, telling CNN he’s in the race to stay.

His travails are common for many early front-runners in presidential races, who jump to prominence because they’re familiar names who articulate, usually with clenched fists, the frustration that voters feel.

They inevitably face two fall challenges: Voters start looking more closely at them and discover flaws, and they start considering who they want as president, not just as messenger.

Here are the tests Trump faces in the four months between now and the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses:

Fighting the ground game

Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana governor, spent 11 days in Iowa last month and jumped to fifth in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll. Ben Carson has had an army of supporters working for two years in the state and is now within striking distance of Trump.

Trump is active in Iowa, with 10 full-time paid staffers. “He has a good-sized Iowa staff that’s out there working,” said Robinson, but he’s going to have to slug it out with some experienced organizers and campaigners.

A unified Christian right

Carson’s surge is evidence that the evangelical community, which is particularly strong in Iowa, has begun to rally around the retired neurosurgeon. That’s trouble for Trump. The last two Republican caucus winners, Rick Santorum in 2012 and Mike Huckabee in 2008, were Christian right favorites. Both are running again. The real threat so far is Carson, though. If he gets a boost from Iowa, he would be well-positioned to do well a month later, when voters in 12 states, seven in the South, go to the polls.

Conservative backlash

Outside Iowa, a lot of hard-core conservatives remain suspicious of Trump and are intensifying their efforts. “Donald Trump is not a conservative,” said David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth, which has run ads challenging Trump in Iowa. Trump has supported Democrats and once backed a national health care system.

Overcoming big negatives

Name recognition has certainly helped Trump. But it’s also a burden that could be hard to overcome. Fifty-one percent of Republicans or those leaning Republican told the McClatchy-Marist poll this summer that Trump was a distraction in the presidential process.

Getting attention

The Republican race has faded in the national conscience in recent weeks. The last debate was three weeks ago, and the next is not until Oct. 28. Trump’s standing tends to improve after debates. But the long lag is giving challengers a chance to establish themselves in Iowa, New Hampshire and other key states.

Worse for Trump, most of the media attention Trump got this week involves the status of his campaign. Sunday, he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that if his poll numbers were plunging, he would not stay in.

The comments set off a flurry of speculation among political insiders that Trump had little taste for combat, so Tuesday, he clarified.

“I’m not getting out. I’m going to win, OK?” he told CNN. “The answer is: I’m going all the way and I’m going to win.”

It’s going to be tougher.

“Since he’s not a traditional candidate, he needs to cast a wide net when looking to identify supporters,” said Robinson. “That’s completely different than what someone like Ted Cruz has to do, who can focus on social conservatives and evangelical voters.”

(c)2015 McClatchy Washington Bureau. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Keene, New Hampshire September 30, 2015.   REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl

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21 Comments

  1. Dominick Vila October 6, 2015

    The name recognition and celebrity status that allowed Trump to rise to the top, may turn out to be his Achilles heel. It may not be long before social conservatives – especially evangelicals – start wondering why should they support a man who until a few months before he announced his candidacy supported abortion and universal healthcare. Doing a U-turn may not be as convincing as The Donald thinks. Remember, his supporters want authenticity, not a turn coat.

    Reply
    1. tomtype October 7, 2015

      On the other hand, I never did understand why social conservatives oppose universal health care. And the Protestant half of those who oppose abortion, do not come from churches that either like to cooperate with Catholics or particularly see abortion as a sin. They mostly seem to be anti-abortion because they don’t see women as empowered, although they are far more likely to have women ministers, and have strong female supporters, even leaders, in the church.

      Reply
      1. Dominick Vila October 7, 2015

        Don’t forget that the Universal Healthcare model used for the Affordable Care Act, and Romneycare, came out of the Heritage Foundation, the most conservative think tank in the USA. Not surprisingly, it keeps the insurance industry on the driver’s seat, and does not include effective restraints on price gauging by the medical industry and the pharmaceuticals.

        Reply
    2. @HawaiianTater October 7, 2015

      I keep trying to tell you that he is a plant. Yeah, they may eventually start wondering why they should support Trump but by then, the damage he will have done to the GOP will have already destroyed what little chance they had at winning the WH; which was his goal all along!

      Reply
  2. Polana October 7, 2015

    He will fall and Rubio the undecided on anything but himself will rise and s is the Bushie.

    Reply
  3. yabbed October 7, 2015

    I think Trump may well win the nomination and I hope he does. He will be an easy landslide for Hillary.

    Reply
  4. John Murchison October 7, 2015

    The show must come to an end sometime i suppose.

    Reply
  5. The lucky one October 7, 2015

    Boy wouldn’t that create some cognitive dissonance for the GOP base, a Christian conservative who is also black? The racist arm of the GOP will tie itself in knots if Carson gets the nomination. It must be pretty frustrating for all the racists to listen to both Carson and Obama speak. I think Obama has been a terrible president and I believe Carson would be worse but it’s clear they are both far more articulate than the majority of their peers.

    Reply
    1. latebloomingrandma October 7, 2015

      I don’t think Carson is articulate at all. I imagine he is quite a speaker when talking about medicine, which is where he should stay. As a nurse, I’ve worked with a lot of doctors. Knowledge of their profession does not equate to being politically savvy. And many of them are major a$$holes.

      Reply
      1. The lucky one October 7, 2015

        Agreed except that I do believe Carson is more articulate than his peers, the other GOP candidates and most politicians in general. By articulate I mean he is actually comprehensible and doesn’t engage in a lot of histrionics as for instance a certain buffoon named after a disney character.

        Reply
        1. latebloomingrandma October 7, 2015

          He says some really strange things, though. Speaks before he thinks, under the guise of abhorring political correctness.
          Plus, I am guessing that as a black man, he’s liked by the far right because he’s a Christian fundamentalist and has an American sounding name. As a man of science he doesn’t believe in evolution or climate change. Astounding.

          Reply
          1. The lucky one October 7, 2015

            That is astounding especially regarding evolution. How anyone who has studied biology could doubt evolution is almost beyond belief. IMHO the same is true for climate change but the case has been closed on the basics of evolution for a very long time. I am not a religious person but an acceptance of evolution in no way negates a belief in a creator unless one subscribes to a fundamentalist creed as apparently Carson does and that is scary.

            Reply
  6. greenlantern1 October 7, 2015

    What happened to Trump’s momentum?

    Reply
    1. latebloomingrandma October 7, 2015

      Well, unfortunately he’s still way ahead of everyone else on the Republican side. I read something yesterday that said that his candidacy is not funny anymore. It’s downright scary. So are most of the candidates. I am definitely not a fan of Chris Christie, but 4 years ago he readily admitted that he was not ready or qualified to be President. Too bad there’s not more of that talk going around. America should have learned its lesson with Palin.

      Reply
      1. pattreid October 7, 2015

        Actually I don’t care if Trump remains first. I think that either Hillary or Bernie could beat him in a general handily. The majority of Americans, which include many minorities, lean to Dems. With a loon like Trump being the face of the GOP, I think he enhances our chance to actually get a Democratic Socialist into the proper place.

        Reply
    2. dpaano October 7, 2015

      It went down the tubes with his big mouth!

      Reply
  7. pisces63 October 7, 2015

    Carson said on TV that the gunman in Oregon succeeded because the victims did not
    charge him.

    Reply
    1. dpaano October 7, 2015

      And if a so-called gunman did “charge” him, the police at the scene may have mistaken him as being either the gunman or his associate and perhaps shot an innocent person just trying to help. It’s better to leave these types of things to the police.

      Reply
      1. pisces63 October 7, 2015

        Exactly. In fact the guy who did have a gun on him
        said that very thing. He could have been
        caught in a cross fire and been shot by law inforcement.

        Reply
  8. dpaano October 7, 2015

    Once again, may I say that Trump is a jackass and remains one! I don’t understand why people are supporting either Trump OR Carson as neither of them have ANY political experience. We need a president that can run the country, knows foreign affairs, and knows how our country runs. All these promises that Trump, Fiorina, and Carson are making may sound good, but they are unattainable even for a president based on how our country is run and how our Constitution reads. They are nothing but BS and I hope that most of the country is not fooled by them!

    Reply
  9. paulyz October 8, 2015

    Funny, just seen that Trump is leading in Florida, Ohio, & Pennsylvania!

    Reply

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