BOSTON (CBS) — What impact is Donald Trump having on the GOP race for president?
For now, he’s definitely getting under the skin and inside the heads of his competitors, judging from the latest exchange of insults sparked by Trump’s contemptuous remarks about Vietnam-era prisoner of war John McCain’s service.
Trump’s put-down politics earned him a derisive response today from Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina) a close friend and colleague of McCain’s, prompting a response right out of the high-school prank playbook.
“I don’t care if he drops out,” Graham said on the CBS Morning News. “Stay in the race, just stop being a jackass. You don’t have to run for president and be the world’s biggest jackass.”
Oh my. And Trump’s response during a speech in Graham’s home state was every bit as classy as you’d expect.
“Your senator, what a stiff, what a stiff,” sneered Trump. “This guy Lindsay Graham, he calls me a jackass this morning, and I said to myself you know, it’s amazing, he doesn’t seem like a very bright guy.”
Trump then produced Graham’s private cellphone number, which he read aloud to the crowd and cameras. And by the time his rambling, 40-minute speech was over, Trump had also ridiculed Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Hillary Clinton and President Obama.
“There’s a silent majority out there, we’re tired of being pushed around and kicked around and being led by stupid people,” he concluded “They’re stupid people.”
How is all this playing in New Hampshire? Not well, judging from some of the folks we spoke with.
“I like some of his economic plans, but I think foreign policy is where he gets spanked, and those comments, those outrageous comments. And it’s not his first either,” said one man.
How does it make you feel about him as a presidential candidate, we asked another?
“Oh, there’s no way. There’s no way he could be commander in chief. I don’t know if he’s serious.”
Judging from his address today, which was more of an Andrew Dice Clay comedy routine than a political speech, Trump is serious alright – about doling out scorn, and that certainly keeps the spotlight on him.
But we are about to find out if the old saying is true, one Trump clearly lives by — that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.