Just because the guy used to be pro-choice and thought health care is a right and backed “a path” for 30 million illegal immigrants and said Obama’s policies saved us from a depression and called Hillary “very, very capable” and donated lots of money to Democrats and exploited eminent domain laws to build his real estate empire doesn’t mean he’s a closet liberal. It just means his politics are … highly nuanced, I guess?
Curbelo, who supports Jeb Bush for president, piled on.
“There are too many important national, local international topics to waste time talking about a person who, I repeat, in my judgment is irrelevant — and who quite possibly is a phantom candidate recruited by the left to create this entire political circus,” he said.
And he further explained to Miami radio host Roberto Rodríguez Tejera.
“I think there’s a small possibility that this gentleman is a phantom candidate,” Curbelo said. “Mr. Trump has a close friendship with Bill and Hillary Clinton. They were at his last wedding. He has contributed to the Clintons’ foundation. He has contributed to Mrs. Clinton’s Senate campaigns. All of this is very suspicious.”
A spokesman for the local Democrats, eager to make Trump the face of the GOP, told the Miami Herald that Curbelo should take off his tinfoil hat. I agree. If Hillary were going to recruit someone to tank the Republican primary, she’d recruit a centrist to make life hard for Bush and Rubio, the two candidates whom Democrats seem to fear most. Bringing Trump in as a fire-breathing populist makes life easier for those two in the long run by sucking up votes from more right-wing candidates like Ted Cruz and Scott Walker. Trump as a Democratic catspaw could be effective if he ended up poisoning relations with Latinos for the whole party — his favorable rating among that group is now a breezy 13/81 in the new ABC poll — but there’s no evidence that that’s happening. Michael Warren notes that none of the top-tier GOP candidates have lost any ground to Hillary since Trump started ranting about rapists. And if the idea is/was that Trump’s immigration populism will drag the rest of the field to the right, that doesn’t seem to be working either. Everyone apart from Ted Cruz and Rand Paul has criticized him for the “rapists” remark. Even Cruz, last I checked, still supported a path to legalization for illegals as part of immigration reform. The only candidate who’s moved conspicuously farther right on immigration is Scott Walker, and Walker made his move weeks before Trump was in the race. And he did it not because he cared what Donald Trump might think but because he needs to stay to the right in Iowa to hold Cruz off.
Never mind all the strategic problems, though. Why would an egomaniac like Trump agree to be a catspaw for anyone? What could the Clintons offer him that he doesn’t already have? He’s running, I assume, because he relishes the idea that he can jump in, pound the table for a week or two about illegals committing crimes, and instantly leap ahead in the polls of governors and senators who’ve spent years gaming out a path to the nomination. It’s proof, at least to him, of what a consummate winner he is, at least until his polls start to tank (yeesh) and he decides he has better things to do than keep the campaign going. Having the most famous tea partier in America come to his office today to kiss the ring and beg for his eventual endorsement must be pure candy for him. I have an image of Trump telling him, “Okay, but only if you agree to be a judge for Miss USA during your first year as president.” And Cruz will have no choice but to think it over.
For the record, Trump issued the requisite denial that he’s a stooge for Hillary this morning on Fox. Here’s the puppetmaster, pandering a few days ago in a speech to the National Council of La Raza. Exit question via Dan Foster: “When’s the last time the top polling candidate in one party was a major donor to the top polling candidate in the other party?”