Can Donald Trump Really Be President?

First the real estate tycoon attacked Mexican immigrants, now the war hero John McCain is under attack. Donald Trump is not taken seriously, but the billionaire is still ahead in many polls.

Donald Trump is leading a USA Today poll of Republican candidates by three percentage points. On Sunday, Trump was the most quoted politician on CNN. According to Fox News, Trump even holds the lead by four percentage points. Trump is once again a cover story for The New York Times.

Of all the candidates for president included in a Gallup poll, Trump has received the highest rating in regard to economic issues and foreign affairs. Trump will be part of the pack when Fox broadcasts the first live debate with leading Republican candidates.

However, Trump is not the Republican Party’s candidate for president. The real estate tycoon and TV entertainer, who is currently in a feud with Republican Sen. John McCain, is being rejected by the “Grand Old Party” establishment. And that means that it will not nominate him as their official candidate for president. The party’s major donors are keeping their cash boxes hermetically sealed when it comes to the 69-year-old billionaire’s election campaign. Nevertheless, Trump manages to make headlines nearly every day.

“He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured,” Trump said on Saturday about 78-year-old John McCain, who was shot down in 1967 as a pilot over Hanoi and then held prisoner by the North Vietnamese for five years in the worst of conditions. Even though he broke both legs and an arm in the Douglas A4 Skyhawk’s crash, he was barely given any medical treatment, but was instead interrogated with beatings and held for two years in solitary confinement. In 2008, the Arizona senator was the Republican presidential candidate, but was defeated by Barack Obama. The foreign policy perspectives of McCain, the hawk, who regularly pushes the U.S. government to take military action, are controversial, but the mental and physical strength shown by McCain as a prisoner of the Vietnamese has gained him great respect across party lines.

Draft Dodger Insulting a National Hero

This hero status is now challenged by a man who escaped service in Vietnam, relying on his studies and an alleged abrasion to a bone in his foot (Trump no longer knows whether it was the right or left one). Previously, the businessman and TV entertainer insulted the senator, calling him a “dummy” who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy as one of the worst in his class. That was the reason for one of McCain’s comments at a speech in Phoenix, where he said that Trump is “stirring up the crazies” with his statements about criminal immigrants.

Those statements came at the very start of Trump’s campaign and ensured that the wannabe candidate was immediately the focus of media coverage. While serious Republicans court Hispanics, Trump delivered a sharp blow to the quickly growing group of voters during the official announcement of his candidacy in New York City. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them to us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Trump said.

Jeb Bush, who, despite the good poll ratings for Trump, is still considered the favorite for the presidential nomination and is still just barely ahead in all the polls on average, according to the website RealClearPolitics, reacted with anger: “Terrible comments like this are not representative of the Republican Party,” said the ex-governor of Florida, who is married to a Mexican woman and who is banking on the support of a large portion of Hispanic electorate.

TV stations like NBC and Univision as well as Ora TV, which is owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, cancelled contracts for the broadcast of various beauty contests, among others, organized by Trump. The department store chain Macy’s has stopped selling men’s shirts and ties with the successful businessman’s logo. America’s beloved NASCAR racing will no longer be sponsored by Trump.

Still, there were Republicans that defended Trump. New York congressman, Representative Peter King, explained that the comments about Mexican immigrants were “taken out of context.” And, right in the middle of the debate, news broke of a Mexican in San Francisco who had already been deported five times who killed an American woman when he randomly shot into a crowd. That appeared to confirm Trump’s criticism of the government’s much too tolerant approach toward illegal immigrants. His ratings in the polls shot up. The fact that the Mexican government does not follow any policy of sending offenders or drug addicts to the U.S., as Trump’s claim suggests, went unnoticed in the heated discussion.

Now Trump has repeated the same recipe with his attack on McCain: Attack a politically incorrect subject or a renowned Republican, so that a journalist asks your rivals about their opinions, and you’re guaranteed to make headlines! The fact that McCain is without a doubt a war hero was supported by presidential candidates Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee. Jeb Bush tweeted: “Enough with the slanderous attacks. @SenJohnMcCain and all our veterans – particularly POWs, have earned our respect and admiration.”

Erratic Political Developments

It is not unfavorable for Republicans that an outsider is leading the pack at the moment. It is worse that it is a candidate that frightens both Hispanics and the swing voters and is not taken seriously at all. Just a few years ago, he was one of the most prominent minds among the birthers who spread conspiracy theories such as the charge that Obama was not really born in Hawaii but rather Africa, and was therefore not a natural citizen with the natural birthright needed to become president.

Trump, who took over and expanded the real estate enterprise founded by his father, tends to be flexible. In 1999, he changed from the Republican Party to the Independent Party, and went from there to the Democrats in 2001 and returned to the Republicans in 2009. He donated money to Hillary Clinton many times and gave $100,000 to her family foundation, but now says that she was “the worst secretary of state in the history of the United States.”

Trump, once roasted by Obama as a “carnival barker,” knows how to put himself in the spotlight. He concocted and moderated the reality show “The Apprentice” in which he chose a candidate from among ambitious managers to run his company for the annual salary of $250,000. In each episode, he dismissed an unlucky candidate with the strong words “You’re fired!” That is what Trump will also get to hear from Republicans in the foreseeable future. Until then, he’ll probably make more headlines.

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