(Rich Galen, Mullings.com) – This was the best Tweet about Donald Trump this past weekend:
Philip Bump @pbumpTrying to get credit for predicting a Trump implosion is like bragging about how you figured the Globetrotters would pull it out.
Nevertheless. You may remember that I wrote a couple of weeks ago:
Trump is in the same situation that anyone in politics who makes their living saying shocking things finds themselves: In order to continue to make news, you have to keep pushing the Outrageous Envelope.
Trump ripped that envelope apart this weekend when, during remarks in Iowa, he said of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz):
“He’s a war hero [with that East Coast ironic inflection]. He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who were not captured.”
That set off a frenzy among speechwriting, comms, digital, strategy, and polling teams in every campaign and committee to craft a response.
Most were like Jeb Bush:
Enough with the slanderous attacks. @SenJohnMcCain and all our veterans – particularly POWs have earned our respect and admiration.
And Marco Rubio:
America’s POWs deserve much better than to have their service questioned by the offensive rantings of Donald Trump
Or Scott Walker:
@SenJohnMcCain is an American hero, period. I’ll denounce any attack against his service and anyone else who wears the uniform.
The Republican National Committee’s Communications Director Sean Spicer was one of the first to jump into the fray:
@SenJohnMcCain is an American hero because he served his country and sacrificed more than most can imagine. Period.
In fact, about the only candidate who skirted the issue was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx) who appears to have a man-crush on Trump and couldn’t bring himself to criticize the New Yorker:
John McCain is an American hero. Although we have some policy disagreements, I’m proud to serve alongside him.
Note, no allusion to the “T” word.
As of this writing, Sen. McCain has not seen the need to weigh in on this slander. That’s smart. It follows that sage advice: “Don’t get into a mud fight with a guy who buys his fertilizer by the barrel.”
Ok, I just made that up, but you know what I mean.
We’ll start to see in a couple of days whether this is an Inside-the-Beltway issue or it resonates among Republican voters across the country.
Trump is leading in two of the three most recent national polls according to RealClearPolitics.com:
Fox: Trump-18, Walker-15, Bush-14
USA Today: Trump-17, Bush-14, Walker-8
Monmouth: Bush-15, Trump-13, Walker-7
No polling firm has reported results since Trump’s remarks on Saturday (of course) but I suspect a bunch of polls will be in the field today and tomorrow and we’ll start getting numbers on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
With the first debate looming on August 6 in Cleveland, Trump continues to be a suffocating force for those candidates below the 10-candidate cut line. Trailing candidates wanted to show up big in Iowa this past weekend, but Trump made that impossible for most of them.
On the other hand, Trump was President Barack Obama’s best friend this weekend because he knocked the Iranian nuclear arms treaty off many front pages. Or, at least Iran had to share the front page with Trump.
About which: I ran into a senior Israeli official late last week and suggested that perhaps the Ayatollah Khomeini would decide that the deal wasn’t to his liking and scuttle it from the Iranian side.
The official said: This is a great deal for Iran. It is the best they are ever going to get. And they know it.
According to a Washington Post piece late last week, the Saudis appear to be in agreement with the Israelis.
Reporters Loveday Morris and Hugh Naylor reporting from Baghdad had quoted a Saudi diplomat as saying the deal was “extremely dangerous,” adding, “If sanctions are lifted, Iran will try even harder to redesign the region. Iran is trying to change the Middle East.”
The 60-day clock has started on the Congress’ ability to stop implementation of the Iran deal (it doesn’t need Congressional approval) and the counting will start to see if House and Senate opponents can cobble together a veto-proof majority – 2/3 in each Chamber.
Mr. Galen is a veteran political strategist and communications consultant. He blogs at www.Mullings.com.