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Trump’s Orlando comments only served to reinforce his standing among Minnesota GOPers — for good or ill

REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Donald Trump speaking at a campaign rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Tuesday.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump may have set a new standard for taking advantage of tragedy with his Twitter response to the massacre in Orlando and a subsequent speech aimed directly at his supporters’ fear that Muslims threaten American security.

Two Minnesota GOP activists say those comments have only reinforced their opinion of his candidacy — reactions that offer a window into the party’s divide over their presumptive nominee.

To re-cap, the first tweet from Trump after details of the massacre were revealed came at 10:45 AM Sunday.  “Horrific incident in FL. Praying for all the victims & their families. When will this stop? When will we get tough, smart & vigilant?”

The next tweet arrived an hour later. “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!” 

Trump congratulated himself again Monday in a speech in New Hampshire. 

“I called for a ban [on Muslim immigration] after San Bernardino, and was met with great scorn and anger but now, many are saying I was right to do so — and although the pause is temporary, we must find out what is going on,” Trump said in speech in New Hampshire. “The ban will be lifted when we as a nation are in a position to properly and perfectly screen those people coming into our country.” 

Such rhetoric was more evidence to Minnesota Republican activist Dave Thul that Trump is unfit for the presidency. “Trump doesn’t have a filter and doesn’t think about what he says before he says it,” said the former Steele County GOP chair, who resigned earlier this year over his objection to Trump’s candidacy. “I don’t think he has the self awareness that this tragedy is a time when the country is looking for a leader.”

Not that Thul gave high marks to Hillary Clinton’s response. “Hillary Clinton put out a very calculated vanilla response that intended to say nothing and offend no one,” he said.  

Clinton too made political points with her base by arguing for gun control and expressing allegiance with the GLBT community that saw the attack at a gay nightclub as terrorism targeted at homosexuals. 

But she chose not to match the confrontational tone of Trump’s remarks, which included a call for military intervention.

Brian LeClair
Brian LeClair

Yet for Brian LeClair, chair of the Trump for President organization in Minnesota’s Fourth Congressional District, Trump’s words were on target. “I wish Donald Trump had been wrong about the risks we face from radical Islamic terrorism,” he said via email. “With regret, it must be said that Donald Trump has not been wrong. What we really need, though, is a smart, tough President to destroy ISIS in its bases in Syria and Iraq. Secretary Clinton did not get the job done when she had the chance, and ISIS grew dangerous on her watch.”  

Reaction on social media was even more polarized. Trump supporters praised his toughness. His detractors condemned him as egotistical and racist. 

Thul, like many Republicans, remains disappointed with his putative nominee. “Look back to Ronald Reagan after the Challenger disaster,” he said. “Those were words that helped inspire and heal the country.  With Trump, there is none of that.”  

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Comments (16)

  1. Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/15/2016 - 11:01 am.


    By November, few, if any, elected Republicans are going to stand by Trump. Moderates and swing district Republicans will be running for their lives.

  2. Submitted by Sean Olsen on 06/15/2016 - 11:01 am.

    So two people — each of whom had already taken a clear stand on Trump — didn’t have their minds changed by the latest kerfuffle? Is that supposed to tell us anything useful? Why not ask the folks — like Erik Paulsen, for instance — who have been playing the game in the middle in regards to Trump?

  3. Submitted by Noel Martinson on 06/15/2016 - 12:21 pm.

    I wonder if the threat to our country

    claimed by some as “radical Islam” isn’t eclipsed by the threat of “radical Islamaphobia”?

  4. Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 06/15/2016 - 05:57 pm.


    It’s not as though Trump supporters were exactly known for their critical thinking.

  5. Submitted by Josh Ondich on 06/15/2016 - 06:59 pm.

    Trump failed leadership test

    During a time of national tragedy like an Terrorist Attack, Presidential candidates during an election year do not use their pulpit to call the sitting President basically a Terrorist Sympathizer and stir up fear mongering by degrading a group of citizens. We all know Donald Trump is a demagogue that treats this presidential race like a “Reality TV Show” on any given day, but he failed this leadership test by not trying to put political rhetoric aside and not console the country during this tragedy. If this is how Trump reacts to events like this as a candidate, this should question how he would react to a national crisis as President. GOP activist Dave Thul was right to state that Donald Trump is not fit to serve as President of the United States. Trump does not have the qualities of an American President.

  6. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 06/16/2016 - 07:18 am.

    That A

    Bloviating megalomaniac like Trump would run for President is not a surprise. That what I thought were respectable political opponents like Brian LeClair and Kurt Daudt would not only fail to call out and disown the racist Trump but actually make common cause with Trump is absolutely shocking.

    The only thing necessary for evil to happen is for good people to do nothing. But this crowd is actually actively helping. That is complete moral bankruptcy.

  7. Submitted by joe smith on 06/16/2016 - 08:04 am.

    I am a fan of having a non career politician running but not a

    Fan of Trump. I like the idea of someone not poisoned by the current system of becoming wealthy off the public dime (career politicians) trying to figure out real world solutions to what ails our country. The only thing more scary than Trump is another career politician that has figured out you can bribe the public with the public’s money and become a multi millionaire doing it!!

    • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 06/16/2016 - 10:10 am.

      Let’s list Trump’s sources of money

      Inheritance from Dad.

      business bankruptcies.

      Governments subsidies on his projects.

      Refusing to pay vendors to his projects.

      Fraudulent “university”.


      Probably least important: his own business acumen.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/16/2016 - 12:20 pm.

        You Forgot

        Licensing his name. Most of his income now comes from the fact that there are people willing to pay money for something with the “Trump” brand on it, despite the fact that he had no real involvement with producing it.

        Yes, he’s a Kardashian at heart.

        • Submitted by joe smith on 06/16/2016 - 05:54 pm.

          Private money RB private money!!!

          It is a stretch to say Trump hasn’t succeeded in business. You can complain about many things with Trump but to say he hasn’t been a successful person in the private sector is not one of them. As I stated I have no beef with anyone making money in the private sector, I do however have a major problem with career politicians “serving the public” and bribing the public with tax dollars to get rich. Defend that please.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/17/2016 - 03:17 pm.

            Private Money!

            Mr. Successful has a history of bankruptcies, stiffing suppliers, and bad faith litigation to keep his critics silent. He is perceived as successful, because he has been marketing himself that way for over three decades.
            ” I do however have a major problem with career politicians “serving the public” and bribing the public with tax dollars to get rich. Defend that please.” Explain that, please. Do you really think that government spending is just a plot to make money from speaking fees after leaving office? How do you explain the fees Dick Cheney gets for personal appearances?

            We have not had many successful business-people elected President. There was Hoover, and look how that worked out. Of course, Hoover was genuinely successful without having inherited money from his father. He also didn’t file bankruptcy after failing at a business premised on the idea that people will give you money for nothing (after all, what else do you call a casino?). I guess there’s a huge difference there.

        • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 06/22/2016 - 12:27 pm.

          Bidness Acumen

          Someone once ran Trump’s business numbers and figured that if he had simply invested his money in the S&P and spent the rest of his life finger painting, his net worth would be substantially more today than what he currently has. Granted, they had to make some assumptions on what he inherited and what his current net worth is as Trump doesn’t provide those figures. Still, it was a substantial swing: $3 billion vs $8 billion, if my memory serves me correctly.

          I don’t know about all y’all, but that doesn’t strike me as someone who’s that good of a businessman. If you can’t even beat the market, then you might as well kick back and let someone smarter do the investing for you. After you make a trip to Michael’s for a few paint supplies, that is.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 06/16/2016 - 12:21 pm.

      Not That Great

      The pay for politicians is not that great. Some DC politicians do make out like bandits when they leave, but while in office it’s not a huge paycheck.

      It does make us feel good to gripe about it though.

  8. Submitted by Tom Clark on 06/16/2016 - 01:37 pm.

    It’s no surprise to me

    that the GOP finds the consequences of their good ol’ Southern Strategy is to wind up with a nominee who is as unhinged as their base. And every Republican party official and office holder knows this, so spare us the excuses. If Trump had instead pivoted and done the usual Etch-A-Sketch dance, all the racist, misogynist, and xenophobic dog-whistling would be overlooked by the nice Republicans in their plain cloth coats, like it always has been before. The Republican Party deserves to get Donald Trump, and to get him good and hard.

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