The GOP establishment’s mounting attacks on bombastic front-runner Donald Trump’s ability to lead the free world might be letting a little air out of his run, political operatives said — but they could backfire on the moderates.
GOP leaders and top donors have been huddling in recent weeks, strategizing on how to cut Trump out. Ad campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire by PACs for Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are hinting at disaster if Trump ends up in the Oval Office.
But the more moderate candidates show little sign of benefitting. Instead, it was ultraconservative Ted Cruz who pulled ahead of Trump in Iowa last week with 28 percent to Trump’s 26 percent in a Fox News poll. In New Hampshire, Cruz has jumped from sixth place in October to second place last week.
And operatives said the GOP has to be careful about fielding someone like Mitt Romney to counter Trump — a party standard-bearer who’s involvement could be seen by Trump supporters as a badge of honor.
Trump has to emerge unscathed from tomorrow night’s CNN debate and the holiday break to secure a good showing in the Feb. 1 Iowa caucus, Griffin said. But GOP insider Ford O’Connell said Trump remains a force to be reckoned with.
“This guy’s defied political gravity at least 17 times thus far,” O’Connell said. “If anyone is going to stop Donald Trump, it’s going to be Donald Trump.”