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Politics & Government

How Are Republicans Reacting To Donald Trump?

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Donald Trump has never shied away from controversy. Some would say he goes out of his way to court it. This morning, he is right in the middle of a fresh bout all of his own making. Last night, Trump made some comments, which listeners may find offensive, about the Fox host Megyn Kelly. We'll play the clip for you in a moment. Here to speak with us about how Trump's comments are being received is Washington Post conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin. Good morning, Jennifer.

JENNIFER RUBIN: Good morning, Linda, it's nice to be here.

WERTHEIMER: Thank you. First of all, let's listen to what Donald Trump said on the cable show "CNN Tonight."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "CNN TONIGHT")

DONALD TRUMP: She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions. And, you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.

WERTHEIMER: So what's your reaction to that, Jennifer Rubin?

RUBIN: It's one in a long list of crude, obnoxious, vile comments he has made. And for some of us...

WERTHEIMER: (Laughter) You don't feel strongly about it.

RUBIN: Yeah, no real opinion. For some of us who called him out long ago when he, for example, made the comment about Mexican immigrants being rapists and murderers, this comes as no surprise. It seems that the rest of the Republican Party and specifically the conservative wing of the Republican Party is now waking up. They saw him in action in the debate on Thursday, bloviating as he usually does, whining and insulting Megyn Kelly even during the debate. He spent the rest of Friday, even before this comment, complaining that he had been harshly treated. In fact, he was asked the sort of questions one expects of any presidential candidate. He was asked about prior statements, about his positions, about his flip-flops. That did not sit well with Mr. Trump who is not used to being challenged. Spent much of the day whining and complaining, and then he came out with this. As a result of that, Erick Erickson, who has been the purveyor...

WERTHEIMER: Well, we...

RUBIN: ...Of the RedState blog...

WERTHEIMER: Right, right.

RUBIN: ...And is holding a gathering of conservatives, has disinvited him. This is no establishment, in quotation, "squish..."

WERTHEIMER: Yeah.

RUBIN: This is a guy who's very conservative and himself has made a number of outlandish statements, that we have had to applaud.

WERTHEIMER: Well, let me ask you something about that. How do you think Republican women are going to react to these comments?

RUBIN: I think he already had a huge gender gap because his style, his obnoxious comments towards women, his multiple marriages, his mistresses are not the sort of thing women - Republican, Democrat or Independent - particularly like. So I think it's going to make it even worse for him. I think his 15 minutes of fame is about at 14 minutes and 58 seconds, perhaps.

WERTHEIMER: (Laughter) So...

RUBIN: And I think you're going to see a significant decline in the polls. I think he was an expression, a symbol for many Republicans who are dissatisfied, but I think he has proven to be not what the Republicans need or want in a presidential contest. And I think he's probably going to fizzle from here on out.

WERTHEIMER: So, briefly, what do you think the other Republican hopefuls will do?

RUBIN: I think they'll try to appeal to his audience without the crudeness, without the vile comments, and they will go on. There's a wide array of comments, a wide array of candidates, and Republicans will have lots of choices.

WERTHEIMER: Jennifer Rubin, she's a conservative blogger for The Washington Post. Thank you very much for doing this.

RUBIN: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.