Trump trash talks Carson, ‘overrated’ Rubio and ‘sleeping’ Bush

November 3, 2015

Donald Trump held a press conference Tuesday—and that meant plenty of Trumpian trash talk aimed at his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination.

Marco Rubio? Dismissed by Trump as “overrated.” His personal finances, Trump said, are a “disaster.” Jeb Bush? Trump was asked to do an impression of Jeb. His response? “No, I don’t want to do that. I don’t like showing a person sleeping at a podium.”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at news conference to promote his new book “Crippled America” in New York City, November 3, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid

Trump even threw Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and CNBC debate moderator John Harwood into the mix, labeling them both “finished.”

But perhaps most notably, Trump went hard after Ben Carson, whom polls have showed to be the biggest threat to the real estate mogul  in key early states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Trump highlighted Carson’s pledge to abolish Medicare and accused him of being soft on immigration. “You  can’t get rid of Medicare. It would be a horrible thing to get rid of Medicare.,” Trump said from a podium at the Trump Tower in Manhattan. “When a man is weak on immigration and wants to get rid of Medicare, I don’t know he stays [high in the polls].”

Earlier in the day, Trump, who has never held elective office, told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulous that Carson lacks qualifications for the White House. “It’s not his thing. He doesn’t have the temperament for it,” Trump said on “Good Morning America.” “I think Ben just doesn’t have the experience.”

Taking a swipe at a top challenger might be dismissed as standard operating procedure, except that few of Trump’s fellow candidates have dared to knock Carson openly. Several campaigns, in fact, have told Reuters that they consider going after Carson to be a risky strategy with a strong chance of blowback.

Carson’s high favorability ratings are one reason why. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, released Monday evening, showed that the retired neurosurgeon is viewed by the electorate in a more favorable light than any other Republican contender, with 37 percent of percent of those surveyed saying they view him positively. His negative rating, at 24 percent, was the lowest among Republicans. (Trump’s negative rating, by contrast, stood at 56 percent.)

Another reason is Carson’s low-key demeanor. While Trump’s combative approach seems to have infected some other candidates such Bush and Rubio like a zombie virus, Carson has managed to stay apart from the food fights and, in the process, inviting little return fire. Combine that with Carson’s inspirational life story and positive message, and there’s a very real fear among other campaigns that attacking Carson would alienate voters who might ultimately be needed to secure the nomination.

 

But Trump, who keeps his own counsel, doesn’t seem to be worried about any of that. And now Carson has finally landed in his sights. It remains to be seen which candidate will end up damaged more.

 

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/