Donald Trump is performing an amazing trick against his political enemies: If you accuse him of being outside the range of acceptable political company, he’ll rejoin by telling everyone about the times you were obsequiously groveling for his love — and his big money.
Notoriously, of course, Trump responded to rival Lindsey Graham, who called him a “jackass,” by reading Graham’s personal phone number to the audience — and to the whole world.
Trump was doing more here, however, than just playing a cruel and twisted joke. His antics included an anecdote about how he got the number in the first place: Graham — a sitting U.S. senator — had called years ago, Trump said, begging the multi-billionaire to put in a good word for him to the people at Fox News, where Trump often appeared. And oh yeah, Graham asked him for some campaign money, too.
But the South Carolina senator isn’t the only person to whom Trump has been doing this.
In that exact same campaign appearance where he showed off Lindsey Graham’s phone number, Trump also set his sights on Rick Perry, who has taken a lead role among Republican candidates in attacking The Donald and calling for him to drop out of the race entirely. First, Trump did a comedy routine that suggested Perry is only now wearing glasses so that people will think he’s smart, and that it still doesn’t work.
But then Trump dug up some old dirt: “But I see him, he’s so vicious. You know, he used to be really a nice guy — he used to come to see for me for contributions and support. All of a sudden, he wants to show he’s a tough guy with Trump — so tough.”
Trump then took another step Wednesday — posting a past photo from when Perry was happy to stand next to him and seek out his political (and financial) support.
A photo posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on
In fact, this began back in June when Trump first declared his candidacy — and he was immediately attacked in a press release by right-wing group The Club For Growth, which went so far as to call for his exclusion from the Republican debates.
“There is no need to do a white paper on Donald Trump,” said the group’s president, David McIntosh, a former congressman from Indiana. “He is not a serious Republican candidate, and many of his positions make him better suited to take on Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. It would also be unfortunate if he takes away a spot at even one Republican debate.”
The Donald struck right back at the Club, though — by giving Bloomberg Politics a copy of a letter that McIntosh sent him roughly two weeks earlier, thanking him for a meeting they had — and asking him for a $1 million contribution.
For their part, the Club’s spokesman told Bloomberg that it was Trump who “initiated a serious interest in donating to The Club for Growth, so we responded to him, just as we do with all potential donors.”
Trump just dug in further in a press release, however, accusing the Club of attacking his candidacy because he didn’t donate $1 million to them: “I am appalled by Mr. McIntosh’s shameless pandering and blatant shakedown attempt, exposing him and The Club for Growth as a fraud.”
So remember: If you try to turn Donald Trump into a political pariah, he’ll hit you with the worst political dirt of all — himself.
Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to a question at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, United States, July 18, 2015. (REUTERS/Jim Young)