Donald J. Trump said Thursday he was not referring to Carly Fiorina’s looks when he was quoted as saying, “Look at that face” and, “Would anyone vote for that?”

Mr. Trump told CNN on Thursday: “I’m not talking about looks. I’m talking about persona.”

Mr. Trump has faced criticism for saying sexist things about women, referring to them as “pigs” or worse. That history was highlighted after his feud with Fox News’s Megyn Kelly, which culminated with him suggesting that the journalist had blood coming out of her eyes and “blood coming out of her wherever,” with many suggesting he was referring to menstruation.

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Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Phoenix’s Maricopa County, is infamous for his harsh crackdowns on undocumented immigrants.

But even he says Donald Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric has crossed a line.

“I agree with him on one aspect, that we do have rapists and murderers coming across the border,” Arpaio told Fusion anchor Jorge Ramos in an interview. “But when you mention rapists and murders, okay, I don’t think the majority of people from Mexico are rapists and murderers.”

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Chris Christie took aim at Republican primary front-runner Donald Trump this week, saying Trump’s taking offense at being asked questions about various Middle Eastern groups was un-presidential.

“The fact is that I don’t think you get anywhere complaining about the questions you get asked in a presidential race,” Christie told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade on his radio program this week. “You’re looking to be president of the United States that means you gotta be ready to answer anything at anytime.”

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“He started it,” Trump said, referring to Carson, “so remember I like to finish it.”

There’s a slang term for this: clap back. If you’re the type that likes to trust authoritative texts, here are the Urban Dictionary’s definitions. In short, it’s returning a dis with a dis. Or, in case you have to look up “dis,” responding to an insult with another, often harsher insult.

Donald Trump is the master of the political clap back. And he’s become more and more willing to use it.

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[Taya] Kyle reacted by saying that even her young children know that they cannot behave in this way. 

“He’s creative with marketing and creative with the way he can get ratings to go forward. That’s great, but that’s not leading. I find the fact that he would criticize people for their physical characteristics, or even if he says it’s her persona, the way he said it was so offensive,” said Kyle, questioning whether Trump is “well-versed” enough on the issues.

Andrea Tantaros applauded Fiorina for her cool response, but doubted that Trump’s support will suffer. 

“She could have easily said something like, ‘Well, you’re not exactly a 10,’ or made a hair joke or compared his face to Grumpy Cat,” she joked.

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“Who the hell cares what [Fiorina] looks like? If you want to quibble with her on policy, or quibble with her record at Hewlett Packard, that’s fair,” said Katie Packer Gage, a GOP strategist who worked on Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign and whose firm is now working for Marco Rubio. “But people should not be judged by their appearance.”

“There’s already enough pressure on women than to have to deal with this pig who thinks Heidi Klum is no longer attractive because she got a little bit old,” Gage said. “A guy who trades in wives because they get old is what women face every day and are disgusted by. I hate to break it to him, but Melania is going to get old too.”…

“It’s incumbent on all of these candidates, Ted Cruz included, even though he’s currently pressing his lips firmly on Trump’s ass, to call this out and say this isn’t straight talk,” Gage said. “This is rudeness and bad manners and it shouldn’t be condoned. There is an existing problem that women view Republicans as old grouchy white misogynists and we need to do everything we can this cycle to change that; and he’s definitely stopping us in our tracks on that.”

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While the criteria for identifying a genuine demagogue vary, what I have in mind is a political leader who appeals to emotions rather than reason and to people’s fears and prejudices. There is often the targeting of the “out-group.” Relying on personal charisma, a demagogue typically exploits situations to intensify popular support, thrives by creating divisions and seeks to manipulate the masses. Contradictions and false statements are overlooked and excused. For the demagogue, the problems we face are simple to solve, if the right leader is given the reins of power. All this creates a powerful bond with his followers, who prize “authenticity” over careful arguments and view the leader in nearly mystical terms…

[N]ow, with the rise of Mr. Trump, some people on the right want to drain politics of ideas and simply hand it over to a personality – and what a personality! Narcissistic, crude, erratic, untrustworthy and conspiracy-minded, let’s just say Mr. Trump is not a man one associates with cool and sedate reflection.

Many of us who care about conservatism have spoken out so forcefully and frequently against Mr. Trump because we believe that what is playing out is about more than Donald Trump. It’s about the party he wants to lead and the political philosophy he wants to claim.

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At this point, I’m not sure why anyone is surprised. His quote fits perfectly with his new political brand, Offensive Politics. Trump has just two rules: always be on the attack, personally and professionally, and be unapologetic when people get upset…

While intellectuals and analysts opine about whether he’s presidential enough to be president, Trump is winning the mass audience by being very unpresidential: flawed, off the cuff and on the offensive…

Here’s the key takeaway: Conservative voters would rather have Offensive Politics than politics as usual.

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When I say Fiorina’s face bothers me, I am not referring to her looks in general. She looks fit, stylish, and attractive to me. But she does have what I call the angry wife face when she talks politics. Guys, you know the face, which is usually paired with a tone of disapproval. It is your greatest nightmare. It is the face that says you did not do a good job, at whatever.

The outragists in the press will report Trump’s comments as sexism. And by today’s standards, I agree with the classification. But what every adult male who has ever had a relationship with a woman saw was Trump putting words to their own personal nightmares: That face…

My guess is that the majority of American voters chuckled at Trump’s comment and muttered to themselves some version of “We don’t have to worry about him lying to us.” 

And his popularity grows.

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When it comes to the corrupt mainstream media and his political opponents (I think I just repeated myself), Trump’s entire campaign gameplan is to keep his opponents unbalanced, unfocused, on their back foot and on defense. And like Obama and Reid and the mainstream media, he is willing to do this by any means necessary.

And yes, if Trump believes mocking an opponent’s looks will get him under her skin (a place where many campaigns are won), he’s willing to go there.

Bill Clinton once said, “It’s better to be strong and wrong than right and weak.”

Let me put it another way: No matter how nasty and underhanded the bully fights, nobody respects a punk.

Nobody votes for punks.

People respect strength.

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I think every election is not primarily about ideology per se, but which candidate embodies what voters conceive of as the avatar of a just society, and of what they’d like society to look like, if they could wish it into existence.

Barack Obama largely won because he was such an aspirational figure. Many people — not me, not you; we weren’t taken in — looked at him and said, “What a man, educated, urbane, caring… that’s what I’d like society to look like.”

That is still the calculus of most people on both sides of the aisle.

Trump is getting to that place where people cannot possibly look to him to see what they’d like to be; he keeps reminding people that people are, at heart, ugly.

A good candidate is one that gives people a positive vision what they’d like to be.

Trump seems determined to remind us what we really are, which is mean, crude, narcissistic, and frivolous.

And we do not wish to be reminded of that.

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