An influential conservative magazine is launching a full-throated assault on Donald Trump’s credentials as a conservative, widening a rift in the Republican party over its presidential primary front-runner.
The latest issue of National Review, which credits itself with founding the modern conservative movement, is emblazoned with the words “Against Trump” on the cover. Inside, 22 conservatives contend that Trump isn’t a true conservative and that he’s a disaster for the party.
“These contributors have many differences of opinion among themselves, but all agree that Trump is not a conservative, he is a mistake for the Republican Party, and he is the wrong man to pick up the pieces after the wreckage of the Obama years,” editor Rich Lowry said, warning against the “siren song” of Trump.
The contributors include Glenn Beck, former U.S. Attorneys General Edwin Meese and Michael Mukasey, columnist Cal Thomas, novelist Mark Helprin, Cato Institute executive vice president David Boaz and Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“These are not the ideas of a small-government conservative who understands markets,” Club for Growth president David McIntosh writes of Trump. “They are, instead, the ramblings of a liberal wannabe strongman who will use and abuse the power of the federal government to impose his ideas on the country."
Trump responded via Twitter, calling the magazine a “failing publication” that would shame its founder, William F. Buckley.
And the broadside apparently prompted the Republican National Committee to boot the magazine from partnering in an upcoming debate in Houston. The reason? National Review editor Jack Fowler said it was the “Against Trump” editorial. “We expected this was coming,” Fowler wrote. “Small price to pay for speaking the truth about The Donald.”
RNC spokesman Sean Spicer told CNN Friday he was disappointed that the magazine had elected to “go after one of our own” and was contributing to a "circular firing squad” rather than focusing on Hillary Clinton.
Jeb Bush, who has routinely criticized Trump, said the RNC should not have severed the debate partnership with the National Review, which he called a “cherished conservative mouthpiece.
“They’re just telling the truth,” Bush told Fox News.
The assault came as Trump turned fire on his closest Republican presidential rival, accusing Ted Cruz of being soft on immigration. Trump, who was endorsed earlier in the week by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and announced the “coveted endorsement” of Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson -- released two new ads, including a TV spot that accuses Cruz, of being weak on immigration. Cruz, in an interview with ABC News, accused Trump of latching onto the issue for political gain.
Trump also released a radio spot, featuring Jerry Falwell Jr. introducing him this week at Liberty University.
Falwell did not formally endorse Trump, but lavished praise on the real estate magnate, saying he sees “a lot of parallels between my father and Donald Trump.”
The radio ad will play in Iowa - where Trump is courting evangelicals - and in South Carolina. The TV spot will air in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Trump’s campaign said.