Why aren’t more Republicans condemning Donald Trump? Because most of them share Trump’s views on Racism, Bigotry and Immigrants

Over the past week, Donald Trump’s inflammatory remarks about Mexican immigrants have enraged the Hispanic community, cost him million-dollar business contracts and dominated media coverage of the 2016 presidential race.

But the overall reaction from much of the rest of the Republican field has ranged from tepid criticism to, in at least one case, strong words of support.

Trump has put the rest of the GOP in a difficult position with his assertions that Mexico was sending “rapists,” killers and drug dealers across the border into the United States. While most of the candidates would rather pretend Trump doesn’t exist, the remarks — and his refusal to disavow them — have made that impossible.

The celebrity TV host and businessman has succeeded in sucking much of the oxygen out of campaign coverage, and he swings harder each time he’s knocked back. On Wednesday night, CNN’s Don Lemon noted in an interview with Trump that a study cited by the candidate to bolster his argument actually referred to Central American immigrants who were raped while in Mexico, not in the United States.

Trump responded: “Well, somebody’s doing the raping, Don! I mean somebody’s doing it! Who’s doing the raping?”

[As Donald Trump surges in the polls, Democrats cheer]

Such rhetoric does little to help Republicans seeking to connect with Hispanic voters, a demographic they need to win a national general election. But the candidates are also cognizant that Trump is tapping into a bloc of conservative GOP primary voters who welcome his abrasive approach and share his attitude over illegal immigration; he has surged to second place in several polls nationally and in early-nominating states.

So far only long-shot former New York Gov. George Pataki — desperate for some attention himself — has taken a proactive approach, sending a letter to the rest of the GOP field on Wednesday asking them to join him in denouncing Trump and his comments.

“As Donald Trump doubles down, I’m asking you to join me in standing up,” Pataki wrote.

Other GOP candidates have only commented when asked to respond to Trump’s remarks. And Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is angling for the same voters as Trump, came to Trump’s defense.

[Ted Cruz: Donald Trump is ‘terrific,’ shouldn’t apologize for comments]

Cruz is not alone: a number of other prominent conservatives, including National Review editor Rich Lowry, Iowa Rep. Steve King and American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp, have mounted at least limited defenses of Trump’s overall immigration message.

Twitter @sheriffali



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