Inside the GOP field’s new strategies to ride out the Trump tornado

Though flummoxed by Trump’s staying power and aghast at the coarse tone he has brought to the race, party elites said they have no plan to take him down. Donors feel powerless. Republican officials have little leverage. Candidates are skittish. Super PAC operatives say attack ads against him could backfire. And everyone agrees that the Trump factor in this chaotic multi-candidate field is so unpredictable that any move carries dangerous risks…

At a recent focus group of Hispanic voters in Denver conducted by a conservative organization, which requested anonymity because of client agreements, several voters said they see Trump more as an entertainment figure than a representative of the Republican Party, according to an attendee. That could change, however, as Trump’s campaign continues and some candidates move to embrace his positions…

If Bush was using a butter knife against Trump, Rand Paul has taken out a machete. The senator from Kentucky, who tangled with Trump at the Aug. 6 debate, labeled him a “chameleon” and accused him of exploiting the tea party. His campaign released a video mashing up old TV clips of Trump sounding like a liberal.

Privately, Paul repeatedly mocks Trump, and he has marveled at how easily baited the reality television star has been, according to associates.