Donald Trump's Ascent Tests GOP Chairman

Donald Trump’s rise in the polls isn’t just giving his rival candidates heartburn; it’s also posing a major challenge for Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus.

Priebus must decide how to handle Trump, whom many GOP strategists see as a rhetorical bomb-thrower doing damage to the party’s image.

But any efforts by Priebus or others in the party hierarchy to rein in Trump — potentially including finding a pretext to exclude him from the first televised debate, which is less than a month away — are virtually guaranteed to provoke a volcanic reaction from the real-estate mogul.

The difficult bind for Priebus was underlined Thursday, when GOP insiders who spoke to The Hill were divided over the wisdom of a phone call he made to Trump the previous day. The RNC chairman reportedly suggested the candidate should tone down his language, particularly on immigration.

Trump’s capacity to consume media attention is especially frustrating to GOP candidates who are on the cusp of being excluded from the televised debates, the first two of which are limited to the top 10 candidates in polling.

“He eats up so much oxygen that it is going to be real hard for candidates who have low name ID to get their message across,” said another Republican consultant, Ford O’Connell.

Read more from Niall Stanage at The Hill

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Analysis & Political Strategy