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Why the Muslim database won’t doom Trump

<p>In the last 24 hours, Donald Trump has said he “absolutely” would implement a database of American Muslims and that participation would “have to” be compulsory. Asked how that would differ from the registration of Jews in Nazi Germany, he responded only, “You tell me.” </p><p>Is his campaign imploding? Fat chance. </p><p>Just as Trump’s provocations aimed at Mexican immigrants and John McCain’s war record have fueled his presidential run rather than destroyed it, his latest demagoguery on Muslims plays straight into his populist appeal.</p><p>“He has made so many other inflammatory irresponsible statements … that I’m skeptical this will hurt him either,” said Colorado-based Republican consultant Dick Wadhams. “He definitely benefits from this notion of he tells it like it is and he doesn’t care what people think.”</p><p>On terrorism, as on so many other issues, what sounds outrageous to political and media elites can sound reasonable to large swathes of the American electorate, said veteran New Hampshire-based Republican strategist Dave Carney.</p><p>“When [elites] sit around and have a wine after work and some brie and they talk about the situation and geopolitics and what’s going on in the Mideast they’re talking about the Sunnis and the Shia and Alexander the Great and … what font the f**king French should’ve used to draw the maps after World War I,” he said. “Americans after work, if they can have the time to have a beer and see what’s going on, think there are these radical Islamist terrorists who want to kill us.”</p><p>A Trump campaign insider said the candidate’s willingness to go where other politicians will not helps him with voters. “Trump says what everybody else is thinking,” said the person. “ISIS has declared war.”</p><p>On Friday, Trump’s Republican rivals <a href=”http://www.politico.com/story/2015/11/jeb-bush-trump-muslims-216099″ target=”_blank”>condemned</a> his position. Jeb Bush called it “just wrong,” John Kasich said it “strikes against all that we have believed in our nation’s history,” and Ben Carson called the singling out of religious groups for monitoring a “dangerous precedent.” Even Ted Cruz, Trump’s staunchest defender in the Republican field, disavowed the idea. “I’m a big fan of Donald Trump’s, but I’m not a fan of government registries for American citizens,” he said at a campaign stop in Iowa.</p><p>But rather than apologize or back down, Trump shifted the blame to the media, a tactic that has so far served him well in navigating the never-ending controversies sparked by his words. “I didn’t suggest a database-a reporter did. We must defeat Islamic terrorism &amp; have surveillance, including a watch list, to protect America,” he <a href=”https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/667777348029292544″ target=”_blank”>tweeted</a> on Friday afternoon. A spokeswoman for the Trump campaign did not respond to a question about whether Trump still supports requiring American Muslims to register for a government database.</p><br><p>The Trump insider said the campaign was unfazed by negative coverage from mainstream outlets of the candidate’s provocations. “The non-politically correct person will always be attacked the most. That’s just the nature of our media,” the person said.</p><p>“He’s been at war with the media this entire campaign and his polls numbers continue to rise,” said Wadhams.</p><p>While Trump’s brash statements, and the antagonism they provoke between the candidate and the media, heighten his appeal to many Republican primary voters, there are downsides to the demagoguery as well. Only 37 percent of registered voters view Trump favorably, compared to 56 percent who view him unfavorably, according to a nationwide Quinnipiac <a href=”http://www.quinnipiac.edu/images/polling/us/us11042015_xsq33a.pdf” target=”_blank”>poll</a> released earlier this month. Among all presidential candidates, only Bush and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham registered worse net favorability ratings in the poll. Numbers like that could prove a long-term liability in a general election should Trump defy initial expectations and carry his party’s nomination.</p><p>And Wadhams said that Trump’s continued willingness to push the normal bounds of civility and political discourse could undo him yet. “It makes you wonder just when is he going to go too far, or if the aggregate of all these statements is going to affect him,” he said.</p><p>Despite the recurring predictions of Trump’s demise, Carney said he was not holding his breath. “Even after Magellan circumnavigated the globe people predicted that the world was still flat.”</p><br>

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