GOP strategists are concerned that Donald Trump's inflammatory style could undermine the party's performance in the 2016 race for the White House.
According to The Wall Street Journal
, there is concern that Trump's criticism of viable candidates in the Republican field could undermine their electability, while divisive comments on issues such as immigration could leave voters with the impression that the party is racially insensitive.
"He's a very toxic addition to the field," Katie Packer Gage, deputy campaign manager of Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, told the Journal.
In announcing his candidacy, Trump referred to Mexican illegal immigrants as criminals and "rapists," and disparaged former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. At the same time, he highlighted trade issues and America's international economic competitiveness.
"I add a lot," Trump told the Journal. "I am an extreme business person. I've had tremendous success."
But strategists say he is unlikely to win the nomination or provide leadership for the Republican Party.
"Trump operates under no real set of political rules," Tom Rath, a former New Hampshire state attorney general and state strategist for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, told the Journal. "It really does not matter what party leaders want; he will do what he wants."
According to the Journal, some in the GOP believe Trump should be excluded from candidate forums and debates.
"His involvement in any televised debate will be damaging," Matt Mackowiak, a Texas Republican strategist, told the Journal. "It is my sincere hope that he is blocked from participating."
Trump has already been invited to a number of GOP candidate forums, including an August event in Atlanta sponsored by the conservative website RedState.
"We invited him yesterday," Erick Erickson, editor in chief of RedState, told the Journal. "I like him … There is a level of the conservative base who like him. My concern is that I don't want the other candidates to be overshadowed by Trump."
Some say, however, that Trump's anti-Washington, anti-establishment tone resonates with many voters.
One Iowa activist said Trump is appreciated in the state for his straight talk and status as a political outsider.
"They are just yearning for leadership and honesty. People are viewing him that way because of his business success," Cody Hoefert, co-chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, told the Journal.
Trump has yet to file his paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, but his campaign said he would do so within the required 15-day window.
It is expected that Trump will qualify to participate in the first two televised presidential debates hosted by Fox News and CNN on the assumption that he will meet the requirement and rank within the top 10 candidates in the average of national polls.
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