As we've all learned through painful experience, it's rarely a good idea to predict that Donald Trump is going to suffer because of some controversial thing he's said or done. To his Republican base, at least, he can do no wrong.
Transgender people should be able to use whatever bathroom they want, Donald Trump said Thursday.
"Oh, I had a feeling that question was going to come up, I will tell you. North Carolina did something that was very strong. And they're paying a big price. There's a lot of problems," the Republican presidential candidate said during a town hall event on NBC's "Today."
... "There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go. They use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate," Trump said. "There has been so little trouble. And the problem with what happened in North Carolina is the strife and the economic -- I mean, the economic punishment that they're taking."
Matt Lauer then asked whether Trump has any transgender people working for his company.
"I really don't know. I probably do. I really don't know," Trump said, answering that he would allow, say, transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner to use whatever bathroom she wanted at Trump Tower.
Kevin Drum wonders how this will go over in Trump Nation:
At a guess, Trump's supporters are mostly people who think the North Carolina law is a good idea. Or at least, they used to. But now that Trump has come out against it, will the rights of transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice become the latest rallying cry of the angry working class? Perhaps we're about to find out just how much influence Trump really has with his supporters.
Let's go to the Trump-friendly confines of Free Republic and see how this is playing:
Donald, you have lost your mind.
Thanks for messing over an awful lot of your supporters.↓ Story continues below ↓
It should be no surprise when liberals say liberal things.
And the veil comes off. He’s not a conservative and will not advance conservatism....
I’m out of here. This really hacks me off. It is absolutely indefensible.
People are going to start wearing Depends when they are out in public for long periods. They will stop using restrooms.
The public restroom will cease to be.
Civil unions > gay marriage > bathroom perverts > Marxist utopia.
Ted Cruz pounced:
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) April 21, 2016
During a Thursday interview with conservative radio host Glenn Beck, Cruz expressed support for the North Carolina law, arguing that the provision regarding bathrooms makes sense.
"My five-year-old knows the difference between boys and girls. You’ve got the Obama education department suing to try to force junior highs to let teenage boys shower with teenage girls," Cruz told Beck. "That’s crazy. That’s not a reasonable position, and it is simply crazy."
But if Cruz wants to salvage his campaign, he should do more than pounce -- he should make this the #1 issue he talks about from now on.
Cruz doesn't do very well in the East, where Republicans are far less likely to be evangelical Christians, and so he's looking at defeats in five Eastern states this coming Tuesday. But it's my sense from watching the right that rank-and-file conservatives, secular as well as religious, have worked themselves up into a frenzy over transgendered bathroom rights. They are as certain that accommodating trans people in public restrooms leads to rape as they are that massive voter fraud is taking place -- i.e., they don't care what the facts say because it just feels true.
So Cruz should probably run an all-toilet campaign from now on. No, it won't endear him to the business-oriented Republican muckamucks he'll need at the convention, but he can tell them he doesn't really mean what he's saying -- remember, he's the guy who's out there promising to deal with the "crisis" of gay marriage while hitting up rich gay businessmen for cash and quietly telling other wealthy donors that fighting marriage equality wouldn't be"a top-three priority" in a Cruz administration.
So go for it, Ted. Trump is out-hating you on so many issues. This is your chance to out-hate him for once. I think this could really drive Trump's poll numbers down, even in the East, unless he walks it back.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog