Trump’s Comments Follow Other Candidates on the Trail

Jonathan Martin 8/10/2015NYT FD

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Good Monday morning from Washington, where Congress is on recess, President Obama is on vacation, and the debate’s hurly-burly is done, the battle lost and won. Among those claiming victory is Donald J. Trump, whose subsequent online confrontation with the Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly was widely seen as sexist, and has prompted hand-wringing among the other candidates about what should be done with him.

Not only is Mr. Trump not going away, he is ensuring that yet another week on the campaign trail will begin with questions that the rest of the candidates are growing sick of. They begin with: “Donald Trump said…”

In an attempt to shift attention away from his inflammatory comments about Ms. Kelly, Mr. Trump used his appearances on the Sunday morning TV news shows to attack Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, and Carly Fiorina, two of his rivals. (In typical Trump style, he went on the attack against Mr. Bush and Ms. Fiorina because, of the Republican presidential hopefuls, they had been among the most critical of his comments about Ms. Kelly.)

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” he targeted Ms. Fiorina for her rocky tenure as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard and mocked her for her 10-percentage-point loss in a California Senate race in 2010. And in nearly every show he called into, he hammered Mr. Bush for saying last week that he was “not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” (Mr. Trump, by contrast, vowed on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he “will be phenomenal to the women.”)

It is not difficult to imagine what Ms. Fiorina and Mr. Bush will be asked as they take to the road this week.

And therein lies the dilemma: If candidates denounce Mr. Trump’s provocations, they ensure that he will attack them, which then forces them to respond to Mr. Trump. And on it goes.