Donald Trump’s invitation to appear at the conservative RedState gathering has been rescinded in one of the most significant public rebukes of the controversial Republican presidential contender to date.First of all: Trump has "some fans" at the RedState gathering? As I noted yesterday, National Journal reported that Trump was extremely well received at a RedState debate viewing party:
Trump had been slated to attend a tailgate Saturday evening at the conservative confab, where he has some fans, but RedState head Erick Erickson tweeted late Friday night that the invitation had been revoked, and later told reporters Trump had “disqualified” himself in a move that marked the “beginning of the end” for his campaign.
Those statements followed inflammatory comments Trump made about Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly, who was one of several moderators to question him at the first GOP primary debate the evening before....
Earlier Friday night, Trump had blasted Kelly, saying on CNN, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her -- wherever,” a comment that was immediately perceived by many observers, including conservatives at the conference, as deeply misogynistic."
When Trump defended his reversal on abortion, his donations to Democrats like Hillary Clinton, even his refusal to rule out a third-party run should he not win the Republican nomination, the crowd responded with among the biggest cheers of the night.And as Curt Purcell points out in the comments to my last post, the RedState thread in which Erickson announced his decision to disinvite Trump has been full of Trump defenders:
If the Red State crowd is any indication, the Summer of Trump is not even close to over....
Indeed, when Trump actually cited "political correctness" as he defended his public insults of women over the years, the 600 in attendance went wild, just as they did when he hit back at Fox News moderator Chris Wallace for his question on Trump's bankruptcies.
I have questions about Trump, but the disinvitation was rather petty and seems designed to ingratiate with the mainstream media/RINO crowd.But the comments are mixed, and MSNBC's Benjy Sarlinsays the response to the exclusion of Trump at the gathering is mostly positive:
... I said at midnight that great calamity would occur because of the wishy washy juvenile disinvitation....
I just read Trump's infamous comment to my wife (in my best real radio announcer voice) and she busted right out laughing. It was pretty funny, considering who he was poking fun at. C'mon, you know it was....
... I have heard of far worse things than this being said by establishment politicians of both parties during both the Clinton and Obammy eras, so we had better be careful that we don't climb on too high a horse. This is a dirty, nasty business, especially with the current crop of libs and RINOs and they are in it for blood. If you don't want blood on your hands you should probably go away and let someone else run this show.
. @EWErickson to crowd "I disinvited Donald Trump." Mix of boos and cheers, mostly cheers.— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) August 8, 2015
More applause -- and a few boos -- as Erickson says he didn't wan't Trump at "family friendly" event— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) August 8, 2015
("Family friendly" event -- this, of course, from a guy who once called David Souter a "goat fucking child molester," and who has his own long history of sexist comments, which have infuriated, among others, Megyn Kelly.)
So has Trump really burned his bridges to movement conservatives? Well, maybe not -- Sarlin also noted on Twitter that the disinvitation had led to intra-wingnut warfare:
Trump sectarian warfare spilling out to other tribes https://t.co/RiNvsVlEjI— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) August 8, 2015
(The link was to a tweet from Erickson saying, "Looks like disinviting Trump shut down Breitbart coverage of the RedState Gathering. Oh well." That tweet, however, has been deleted.)
Whatever the fallout, it's definitely not over over for Trump -- he's certainly not going to become abashed and withdraw from the race this weekend. But he's actually done a walkback, though I'm sure he'd insist that it's a clarification (which, of course, it isn't):
Re Megyn Kelly quote: "you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever" (NOSE). Just got on w/thought— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 8, 2015
There's something visceral about an insult this anatomical -- it's offputting in a way that even his other insults haven't been, and everybody gets it. Plus, he's hitting a woman (and clearly not Rosie O'Donnell who's despised on the right). This cuts against his tough-guy image.
I think this will be the first gaffe that actually hurts Trump's poll numbers. It may be the beginning of the end. But the end will be a very slow process.
If this really hurts Trump, he'll stay in the race, quite possibly through a few contests, and he'll retain some support. When he leaves the GOP contest, he'll leave in a huff, and at least threaten a third-party race. It's something he actually could pull off if he wants to -- he has the money to hire people who know how to get him on the ballot in all fifty states. But -- ironically, given the premise of The Apprentice -- he's not good at political hiring. He still turns for advice to jamokes like Michael Cohen, the lawyer who said marital rape isn't rape. (Trump distanced himself from Cohen's remarks, but after Thursday's debate, there was Cohen on CNN, spinning for Trump.) So I bet we'll just hear less and less about a third-party run, until the whole Trump moment slips down the memory hole, just in time for the mainstream media to declare the latest rebirth of a fresh, exciting GOP. (I continue to believe that the MSM is going to try to win the election for the Republicans, out of a hatred of Hillary Clinton.)
But this all may be wrong. This may just be a momentary stumble for Trump. I think it's worse, though. I think he's gotten himself in real trouble this time.
UPDATE: Erick Erickson, defender of women.