Donald Trump at this point is probably just days away from calling Papa John’s and ordering a dozen pizzas to be delivered to the headquarters of each of his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination – with a promise of payment in cash, of course.
Trump’s presidential campaign looks increasingly like a piece of performance art designed to gauge the Republican voter base’s tolerance for a candidate utterly divorced from the idea that a presidential election is a serious national conversation about policy.
According to CNN, the candidate currently in the lead in the Republican presidential primary recently sent a “CARE package” to one of his rivals, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Trump, who has been attacking Rubio on the stump for drinking too much water and, Trump claims, sweating too much, sent Rubio a case of Trump-branded bottled water. He also threw in some Trump towels, and some Trump campaign bumper stickers.
According to CNN, which appears to have been first in reporting the story, the package came with a note that read, “Since you're always sweating, we thought you could use some water. Enjoy!” A Trump staffer confirmed the stunt originated with the campaign. The towels, the staffer confirmed, were “for him sweating.”
Pause for a moment and consider that the man currently in the lead in the race to be a major party nominee for president is running a campaign that counts middle school-level taunting as a useful tactic.
Playing Gunga Din is not his only tactic. Trump has spent time on the stump and in television interviews attacking Rubio for drinking too much water and, he says, sweating.
“I've never seen a young guy sweat that much. He's drinking water, water, water. I never saw anything like this with him with the water,” he told a crown in South Carolina last week.
It’s a pattern with Trump, who is frequently characterized as a bully, but might better be considered a “mean girl.” Trump’s standard operating procedure when faced with a challenger is not to go after them on the grounds that their policies would be worse for the country than his, but rather to argue that there is some defect – physical or emotional – that ought to disqualify them.
He’s attacked former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina on the basis of her looks, and former Florida governor Jeb Bush for being a “low-energy” candidate. He made fun of former Texas governor Rick Perry’s glasses, and he publicly gave out the personal cell phone number of South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.
How long Trump will hang around in the GOP primary election is unknowable. By virtue of his wealth and ability to command media attention (like this article, admittedly) he can keep this going pretty much as long as he want.
Eventually, Republican voters are going to have to consider the possibility that under President Trump, the day might come when the red phone in the Kremlin rings, and a stressed out army colonel answers it to hear someone with a New York accent ask, “Is your refrigerator running?”