GOP is Baffled as to Why So Many People Support Donald Trump for President

Donald Trump greeted supporters after a rally on Thursday in Laconia, N.H., where he drew about 300 people. (Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The New York Times)
Donald Trump greeted supporters after a rally on Thursday in Laconia, N.H., where he drew about 300 people. (Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The New York Times)

There are many, many things Donald Trump would like you to know about how he would run the country. As he told a standing-room-only crowd here the other night, turning America around would be a lot like running the Trump National Doral golf club in Miami, which he bought when it was in bankruptcy in 2012.

He is really smart. “I’m really smart,” he boasted in Phoenix last weekend before rattling off his résumé highlights. “Went to the Wharton School of Finance. Even then, a long time ago, like the hardest, or one of the hardest, schools to get into.”

People like him, clamor for him, must see him. Describing for an audience in Las Vegas how demand to see him at a recent event was so high, he said the venue managers had panicked and called, “begging us not to be there.”

He is not wrong on this last point — even if he does sometimes embellish the size of his following, as he did here in New Hampshire. He declared that of the 300 or so people who packed a suffocatingly hot banquet hall, there must have been three times as many outside. There were not. And by the end of his speech, that estimate had ballooned to “thousands of people outside.”

But the question that is giving so many Republicans heartburn today is how a man so few took seriously is suddenly a leading presidential contender. Listening to Mr. Trump as he campaigned across the country over the past week, and talking to the people shouting “U.S.A! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” who crammed into halls and ballrooms by the hundreds and sometimes thousands, shed some perspective on his appeal, and on the void he is filling in Republican politics.

Mr. Trump is not, as many Republicans have suggested, merely a renegade agitator who sneaked up on the party establishment and threatens to spoil its plans for a tidy, civil primary. Rather, he has become the new starring attraction for the restless, conservative-minded voters who think the political process is in need of disruption.

Some align themselves with the Tea Party movement. Others call themselves independents or Republicans who are just fed up. The praise they heap on Mr. Trump — “He speaks the truth,” “He’s fearless,” “He’s not politically correct” — echoes the words conservatives have used to describe others, like Sarah Palin and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who have stirred their passions before.

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SOURCE: JEREMY W. PETERS
The New York Times

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