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Trump’s post-Orlando message falls flat with GOP establishment

  • Published at 08:57 pm June 15th, 2016
  • Last updated at 09:02 pm June 19th, 2016
Trump’s post-Orlando message falls flat with GOP establishment

The mass shooting in Orlando, Florida has allowed Donald Trump to seize upon a familiar issue he has used to great advantage -the threat of militants and his plan to limit Muslim immigration to the United States, offering him what could be a crucial moment to re-boot his sputtering presidential campaign.

But while rank-and-file voters might respond positively to Trump’s renewed call for a ban on some Muslims entering the country, his reaction to the massacre showed few initial signs of winning over Republican foreign-policy figures who have spurned the New York mogul.

Trump said in a speech Monday in New Hampshire he would suspend immigration from countries “where there is a proven history of terrorism” against the US. He said radical Muslim immigrants were “trying to take over our children and convince them how wonderful Islamic State is.”

After the worst mass murder in modern US history on Sunday left 50 dead, Trump’s speech was hastily refashioned from a broad critique of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton to a dire warning of the threat from Islamist militants.

A week ago, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s bid was taking on water. He was being battered by fellow Republicans for his comments about the Hispanic heritage of a federal judge, and Clinton was pulling away in the polls.

A renewed focus on national security could provide Trump with the chance to expand his appeal both to undecided voters and to the GOP foreign-policy establishment.

While Trump at times seems to relish being at odds with the establishment, the unhappiness among the party’s hawks isn’t just a matter of hand-wringing. It means if Trump does reach the White House, he could have a difficult time recruiting talented, experienced advisers.

Alarming the mainstream

Trump has alarmed some mainstream Republicans with vows to shred international trade deals, his demands that Mexico pay for a border wall and his questioning of US foreign policy pillars such as its security commitments to Nato and Asian allies.

But voters are another matter. Trump’s swift rise within the Republican Party was at least partly due to the strident tone he has taken toward immigrants and refugees.

When Trump responded to last year’s terror attacks in Paris and California with a call for banning Muslims from entering the country, he surged in the Reuters/Ipsos poll in the weeks that followed, opening up a 30-point lead over his Republican primary rivals.

Republicans continue to be strongly supportive of Trump’s approach to handling terrorism. This month, two-thirds of Republicans said they agreed with Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country.

Overall, 42% of Americans said they agreed with a Muslim ban while 50% said they disagreed, with another 8%  not sure, according to another Reuters/Ipsos poll from May 17 to June 6. The poll of more than 6,000 people has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of about 1.5-percentage points.

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