This past weekend at my annual RedState Gathering, I rescinded an invitation to Donald Trump to speak after getting the runaround from his campaign on what he really meant when he said Fox News' Megyn Kelly had "blood coming out of her eyes or wherever."
It was an unfortunate outcome. As I told the Trump campaign, I feel like the other candidates have been doing their best to ignore Trump and treat him as a sideshow, when, in fact, he was sitting in the center seat at the debate. The other candidates, the media and the Republican Party should give Trump the courtesy of legitimacy. He is the frontrunner, and they should treat him as such.
Frankly, as long as Trump is being treated as a sideshow, he will continue to beat the other Republicans. The popularity of the Republican Party within the ranks of Republican voters has trended down. The party leaders have, since 2010, made bold promise after bold promise only to break them. Most of the people who are supporting Trump right now seem more hopeful that he will break the party than that he will be elected president. Dr. Frankenstein had his monster, and now John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have theirs.
The Republican Party created Trump's campaign. They created him by breaking promise after promise. They created him by telling their base they would fight the president, only to surrender to him. They created him by telling their base they would fight against immigration, only to cut deals for amnesty. Now that they have created Trump, the presidential candidate, they want to pretend he is an unfortunate distraction so no one asks why he is even a candidate.
Give Trump the courtesy of legitimacy. That includes letting him come on television. The past several weeks have seen Trump do many phone interviews, but he is never on set. Television news networks now feeding off of the Trump frenzy typically would never let the frontrunner phone it in every day. They want the Trump ratings without giving him the courtesy of frontrunner status with frontrunner obligations. They are just using him.
The candidates, too, are ignoring Trump and his record. They will not give him the courtesy of accountability that all frontrunners are given and must withstand. In "The Art of the Deal," the book that put Trump on the literary map, he suggested that Ronald Reagan could "talk a good game but (did not) deliver." Republicans who hold Reagan up as their benchmark for a good president might want to know what Trump meant.
Two weeks ago, Trump joined all the other Republican presidential candidates to call for defunding Planned Parenthood. All of them made the same argument. While federal funding does not pay for abortions at Planned Parenthood, the federal subsidy frees up resources for Planned Parenthood to then devote to abortion. Without the federal subsidy, Planned Parenthood would have less money for abortions. Last week, Trump reversed himself and said the federal government should keep funding Planned Parenthood.
Because the other candidates and even a lot of Trump supporters do not really treat him as a presidential candidate, no one wants to give Trump the courtesy of a record and an evolution on issues, let alone accuse him of flip-flopping.
Ultimately, most Trump supporters are angry with the Republicans in Washington and want someone to punish the party for its lies. They see Trump as that vehicle. But Trump supporters also care deeply for the country. They are patriotic people who want to make America great again.
I do not really believe that the people who got upset with President Obama for letting himself be interviewed by a lady who bathes in cereal will turn to Trump to restore the honor and dignity of the presidency. But right now they are angry, and they have reason to be. Until the other candidates give Trump the courtesy of being a legitimate candidate and suggest he is a flawed vessel through which to channel that anger, he will remain first.