Donald Trump pilloried Mitt Romney on his home turf on Friday, making his best appeal to the state's majority Mormon population and questioning whether Romney truly represented their faith....That was from CNN. Trump asking whether Romney is really a Mormon also became a story at The New York Times, NBC, Business Insider, The Hill, the Blaze, and The Washington Post, and I'm sure that's a partial list.
"Do I love the Mormons? I have many friends that live in Salt Lake City -- and by the way, Mitt Romney is not one of them," Trump said to applause. "Are you sure he's a Mormon? Are we sure?"
At the Post, we get this very important clarification:
Romney’s Mormon faith is well-documented and has been the subject of lengthy discussion in the past. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has made a home in Utah and regularly speaks about his religion.Wow, thanks for nailing that down.
Romney is so obviously a Mormon that the joke doesn't even work. It's just Trump going on autopilot, repurposing material that's worked for him under other circumstances -- but it doesn't work in this context. Watch the clip above -- the remark barely got a reaction. Trump calling Romney "a choke artist" got a much bigger reaction. So did Trump's reference to the fact that his daughter is on the verge of giving birth.
And yet the press thinks this is a real news story. The press is so in awe of Trump at this point that this is treated as a devastating insult. I don't get it.
And speaking of awe, last night I listened to a nine-minute story about Trump's insults of women from WNYC, New York City's NPR affiliate.
Interviewed on the segment were Franchesca Ramsey, a writer for Larry Wilmore's show and the host of MTV's Decoded, and Michael Musto, the former Village Voice gossip columnist and sometime TV personality. Both told the host of the segment, David Furst, that Trump's attacks on women will do him no harm in the election.
Here's Musto (at 4:32 in the segment) talking about Trump's announced intention to attack Hillary Clinton on the subject of Bill Clinton's infidelities:
Well, it weird that Trump is going to use Monica against Hillary. Monica already was something used against Hillary by her husband. Hillary was the victim. I hope he realizes that. In the case of Donald's misalliances while he was married, that was his fault. He was the predator, the perpetrator, and there's a difference there. And it's all going to come out, but...But?
... but, unfortunately, none of it is going to hurt the Donald. This is the man who fought the pope and it didn't hurt him. This is the man who wasn't sure if an endorsement from the KKK was a good thing, and it didn't hurt him. So the fact that he cheated on wives or mistreated them in many ways or objectified women is not going to be any kind of setback for him, and that's really tragic.Musto go on to say of Trump, "He is definitely Teflon. Nothing he says or does hurts him."
Ramsey (at 6:29) is equally despairing:
I don't believe that the way that he speaks is ever going to hurt him, and I think that that is the result of us living in a society that still doesn't really give women agency over their bodies, over their sexuality. And so we are seeing a symptom of the world that we live in.Furst asks Ramsey whether it's hard to write comedy about Trump. She replies:
It is hard, because every time, I realize, in some respect you just start giving him more press. And it's hard, because the people who I think really need to think critically about the things that he's saying, I don't think that they're watching any content that is talking about him with a critical eye.But Musto and Ramsey are looking Trump's success with women (and men) in Republican primaries and extrapolating it to the general election. Trump clearly has Teflon with many Republican voters, including women. But in the public at large, the reaction to Trump is very different:
Half of U.S. women say they have a "very unfavorable" view of the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling, up from the 40 percent who felt that way in October.And as the L.A. Times notes:
More Republican women view Trump more negatively than positively, according to Gallup. And in a hypothetical matchup with Clinton, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found this month that Trump loses the women’s vote by 21 points.And the Millennials who presumably watch Ramsey's shows despise Trump, as USA Today recently noted:
In a hypothetical Clinton v. Trump contest in November, voters under 35 would choose Clinton by a crushing 52%-19%, a preference that crosses demographic lines. Among whites, she'd be backed by nearly 2-1, 45%-26%. Among Hispanics, by more than 4-1, 61%-14%. Among Asian Americans, by 5-1, 60%-11%. Among African Americans, by 13-1, 67%-5%.So negative portrayals of Trump are working -- they're just not working with enough of the voters who are getting to vote on Trump now.
The press has to recognize that a lot of what Trump is doing isn't succeeding -- it's succeeding for the moment, but it's sabotaging Trump for November. It's highly unlikely that he can be stopped in the primaries, but that's because because Republican voters are rageoholics who admire bullies. But he's not unstoppable. Wait till fall.