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Eye On Candidates
June 26, 2015

Could Trump Campaign Damage Republican 2016 Chances?

Real estate magnate Donald Trump has raised eyebrows with several of his more incendiary comments, and some Republicans are starting to become concerned about what his candidacy could mean for the eventual nominee in the 2016 general election. Politico has an insightful analysis of the possible damage:

Trump bump terrifies GOP

All jokes aside, the Republican Party is officially afraid of Donald Trump.

He has virtually zero chance of winning the presidential nomination. But insiders worry that the loud-mouthed mogul is more than just a minor comedic nuisance on cable news; they fret that he’s a loose cannon whose rants about Mexicans and scorched-earth attacks on his rivals will damage the eventual nominee and hurt a party struggling to connect with women and minorities and desperate to win...

Those risks were amplified this week after a trio of polls showed him likely to earn a coveted invitation to the party’s debates, which ironically were restructured with the very goal of avoiding the circus-like atmosphere of 2012. Having Trump introduce the 2016 field to a national audience was not exactly the Big Tent the party’s bigwigs had in mind...

One of the biggest concerns is that Trump's standing in he polls might bump out of the debates someone who the party would prefer to see on stage to showcase its diversity, particularly former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. He is currently in eighth place in the Real Clear Politics average of national polls, and several recent polls have also shown him to be doing well in New Hampshire and gaining ground nationally. To make it onto the debate stage, Trump needs to be in the top ten candidates in an average of national polls.

A sampling of some of the concerns expressed about Trump:

“Donald Trump is like watching a road-side accident,” said former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer. “Everybody pulls over to see the mess. And Trump thinks that’s entertainment. But running for president is serious. And the risk for the party is he tarnishes everybody.”

“There is a real concern, particularly on the debate stage, that Trump won’t play by the rules and he’s going to throw some below-the-belt punches,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.

“The challenge with somebody like him is that when you’re running in these races, there’s sort of an assumption that you’re racing with professionals,” said Katie Packer Gage, a former deputy campaign manager for Mitt Romney. “He makes up facts. It’s a challenge because he’s very unpredictable.”

What impact Trump will eventually have on the race won't be known for a long time, if ever. But right now it's clear there are serious concerns about the damage he could do simply by being a candidate