So how much have Donald Trump’s attacks on Fox News and its debate co-host Megyn Kelly cost him in the polls? According to the latest numbers from NBC News, they’ve cost him not a bit. In fact, he’s even moved up a point.
That’s right. According to an NBC/SurveyMonkey poll taken the night after last Thursday’s debate, The Donald is still solidly in first place in the poll of potential Republican voters, garnering 23 percent. That’s up 1 point from the previous tally.
But Trump didn’t enjoy the biggest gains from his performance. That honor belongs to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who more than doubled his poll results. He jumped 7 points, to 13 percent, and now is solidly in second place, NBC reported.
Ben Carson gained 3 points and is now in third place. Carly Fiorina, the undisputed winner of the so-called “kiddie table” debate earlier Thursday afternoon, featuring the seven contenders who failed to make the top 10, soared 6 points and is now in fourth place.
The biggest losers Thursday night, according to the NBC poll, were Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, both of whom gave a lackluster performance in the debate and dropped 3 points. They are now tied for sixth place.
But enough of “survey says.” The biggest questions to come out of the first debate of Republican contenders were:
1. Was the Fox panel unfair to Trump?
2. Did Trump go too far in his response — and especially in his highly personal remarks about Kelly?
First, I’ve got to say that I was surprised by the no-holds-barred questioning by all three panelists. Bret Baier, Chris Wallace and Kelly clearly were going for blood (if you’ll pardon the expression) right from the start. In fact, Kelly said later that she and her cohosts worked hard to come up the toughest questions they could. They asked themselves where each panelist was “the most vulnerable,” then focused their questions there.
This “gotcha” attitude was clear right from the opening, when Bret Baier asked any panelist who would not promise to support the Republican nominee, whoever it is, and not run on a third party, to raise his hand. Trump, the obvious target of the question, was the only one to put his arm up.
While some in the audience booed, his answer shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. Trump merely repeated what he has said many times before. The Fox hosts had to know what Trump would say — and how it would play to the highly partisan crowd.
But that question looked mild compared to what followed. A few minutes later, Kelly asked Trump about his history of calling “women you don’t like ‘fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.’” Trump got a laugh when he interjected, “Only Rosie O’Donnell.” But the gloves were definitely off.
Trump responded, “What I say is what I say. And honestly, Megyn, if you don’t like it I’m sorry.” But then he added a thinly veiled threat: “I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that.”
The next day, Trump decided that yes, he would. He said of Kelly, “She’s not very tough and not very sharp.” In regard to her questioning during the debate, he said, “There was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”
Trump later denied that he meant anything hormonal by his remark. “How stupid do you think I am?” he asked. But his comment was too much for a bunch of folks. Eric Erickson even uninvited Trump to be the keynote speaker Saturday night at RedState Gathering, a conservative meeting that was taking place in Atlanta that weekend. The Trump campaign promptly denounced Erickson “a total loser” who “has a history of supporting establishment losers.”
Trump is clearly very proud of his reputation for brash, inflammatory comments. After all, that’s what made his television show, “The Apprentice,” so popular — and earned him hundreds of millions of dollars.
Yes, that sort of angry rhetoric can work on TV — even in a prime-time political debate. But is it really what we want in a nominee for president of the United States?
I strongly suspect the answer is “no.” In fact, I think we’ve seen the high-water mark for Trump. I suspect his poll numbers are going to be downhill from here.
Until next time, keep some powder dry.
Chip Wood was the first news editor of The Review of the News and also wrote for American Opinion, our two predecessor publications. He is now the geopolitical editor of Personal Liberty Digest. This article first appeared on PersonalLiberty.com and has been reprinted with permission.