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Opinion

Tiny hands and wet pants: Trump and Rubio debate the small stuff

Trump and Rubio hit a new low in GOP debates

David Horsey / Los Angeles Times

What will the Republican presidential candidates do in their next faceoff on Thursday, drop their pants? In the most recent GOP debate, the race to the White House hit an impressive new low when billionaire wheeler dealer Donald Trump defended his manhood by insisting there is nothing small about his private parts. “I guarantee you, there’s no problem,” Trump said. “I guarantee you.”

So, rest easy, America, one national crisis has been averted.

The subject of The Donald’s junk came up in response to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s taunt equating Trump’s allegedly small fingers with another undersized digit. Rubio has also made fun of Trump’s strangely orange-hued complexion and joked that Trump may have wet his pants at a previous debate.

Rubio’s campaign pretty much admitted the candidate’s quick descent into juvenile insults came about because the media was giving him scant attention while Trump was grabbing tons of free TV with his relentless caustic remarks. (Among other jabs, Trump has insisted he has never seen anyone sweat as much onstage as “Little Marco.”)

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After Rubio’s dismal showing in Tuesday night’s primaries and caucuses, it is clear he did not help himself by getting into trash talk with the front-runner, but the Florida senator is not alone in taking desperate measures to slow Trump’s rapid accumulation of convention delegates. Republican leaders are flipping out — maybe even wetting their pants — at the likelihood that Trump will be their nominee. Last week, the last two men to win that honor, Mitt Romney and Arizona Sen. John McCain, both took hard shots at Trump, with McCain characterizing the billionaire as a “dangerous” ignoramus when it comes to foreign affairs. Romney called Trump “a fraud” and “a phony.”

“He’s playing the American public for suckers,” the GOP’s 2012 nominee said. “He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president.”

Romney, who made millions in business himself, derided the billionaire’s boasts about being a financial genius, listing the many Trump ventures that have failed. Romney also criticized Trump’s reluctance to quickly disavow the support he has received from white supremacists. Reportedly, Romney felt compelled to speak out largely because no one else was doing it. The devout, straight-laced family man was appalled by Trump’s appeals to bigots, his philandering, his pretentious lifestyle and his profane self-promotion.

In another era, this kind of unprecedented assault on a party front-runner would have been devastating — especially because Romney’s comments have the added weight of being true. But, this year, a barrage from the Republican establishment will only make Trump an even bigger hero to the people who admire his swaggering defiance of party poobahs.

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One such Trump fan told the New York Times he found Romney’s remarks “distasteful.” “To go out and publicly chastise Trump because Trump is winning: Is that the American way?” he asked.

Well, Romney’s chastisement is not nearly the most “distasteful” string of phrases uttered this election season and is clearly a bit more than a complaint that Trump is winning. Romney delivered a serious warning about why a Trump presidency would imperil the republic. Trump’s enthusiasts, though, have no inclination to contemplate unflattering facts about their hero. They brush it all off as media noise and establishment lies.

Trump responded to Romney’s attack by alluding to the endorsement he gave Romney in the 2012 campaign. “He was begging for my endorsement,” Trump said. “I could have said, ‘Mitt, drop to your knees’ — he would have dropped to his knees.” Trump stuck with his counterattack Tuesday night when he devoted a significant part of his rambling victory talk to refuting Romney’s belittling remarks. 

It was noble for Romney to speak out for the sake of his party and his country, but his words only gave Trump another opportunity to play the strutting alpha male. Mitt might as well have talked about The Donald’s tiny hands.


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