As Donald Trump’s media coverage and favorable poll numbers accelerate, so do efforts by some conservatives to discredit him.
On Tuesday, Tea Party Nation, host to the 2009 Nashville convention featuring Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., sent its members an anti-Trump blog post. And, for the second day in a row, conservative powerhouse Club for Growth issued a statement deriding Trump.
This time, club President Chris Chocola went after the real-estate-mogul-turned-reality-TV star for “abusing” eminent domain. He cites a 1997 dispute in which Trump unsuccessfully attempted to employ the legal procedure against an elderly widow while trying to expand his Atlantic City hotel to include a limousine parking lot.
“First, we find out Donald Trump is a liberal on taxes, health care, and trade,” Chocola said. “Now, we find out he’s an abuser of eminent domain. Eminent-domain abuse is an assault on freedom, pure and simple. No real conservative would ever use eminent domain in order to take the private property of citizens. I’m shocked and appalled by these revelations.”
The attacks on Trump suggests growing concern among party conservatives that he'll make good on his threat to run for the White House —“a problem for the Republican Party,” GOP pollster Linda DiVall told National Journal.
Trump insists he’s been serious all along, despite mounting criticism that the campaign he’s teasing—as well as the “birther” issue he has so loudly resurrected—is “a joke.” The most recent prominent Republican to join that camp is Karl Rove, former adviser to President George W. Bush, who has declared his support for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and who sounded off on Trump in a Fox News appearance last week.
Trump retorted on Tuesday in an American Morning News radio interview: Rove “really should be ashamed of himself, because the fact is, I’m somebody who has given hundreds of sound jobs to the economy over the years, I’ve made billions of dollars, and all of a sudden someone says, ‘joke.’ ”
Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, says that although Trump “certainly has a big enough ego to think that the idea of him as president would be a good idea,” Trump might not actually know whether he's in it for real or just to build ratings for his popular TV show, Celebrity Apprentice.
“If I’m Donald Trump, it may be that I say, ‘OK, I’ve got a show going on; I could start talking about me being president,’ ” Thompson said. “And a couple things could happen. ‘I could get a lot of attention’—which he did—‘which would help my show. Or if there’s actually interest, I could maybe go through with it.’ ”