Will Arizona voters ever have enough of Trump’s bad behavior? | Phoenix New Times

Will Arizona voters ever have enough of Trump’s bad behavior?

Calling Trump’s GOP dysfunctional, one political pundit puts his faith in “the good Lord” this November.
Former President Donald Trump during a January 2022 appearance in Florence, Arizona. Four indictments and 91 felony charges don't seem to have dampened support for his reelection campaign.
Former President Donald Trump during a January 2022 appearance in Florence, Arizona. Four indictments and 91 felony charges don't seem to have dampened support for his reelection campaign. Jacob Tyler Dunn
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For nearly 30 years she was a feisty, outspoken booster of women through her Elle magazine advice column. It heralded our untapped powers and advised us to plow ahead despite rejections and not to center our lives around men.

But of late, Elizabeth “E.” Jean Carroll has been feeling the wrath of arguably the nation’s most powerful man. In 2019, when Donald Trump was president, she accused him of sexually assaulting her in a department store dressing room around 1996. More than a dozen women have accused him of similar offenses, but Carroll filed a federal case against him.

Trump never showed up for the hearing, arguing he had presidential immunity and claiming he’d never met her. He accused her of inventing the story for her 2019 book, which describes the assault. But the court in 2022 found Trump liable for $5 million in civil damages for both sexually assaulting and then defaming Carroll. And he hasn’t stopped talking that way. In a notorious CNN Town Hall last May, he called her “a whack job” and said, “I have no idea who she is.”

So she filed a new $10 million defamation suit against him. Which was why, after winning the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses Jan. 15, it wasn’t to New Hampshire or Mar-A-Lago that Trump jetted. It was to Manhattan, for the opening of the case. Still, sitting at the defense table on Jan. 17, he disparaged it as a “witch-hunt” and “con job,” until ordered by the judge to stop.

Carroll tweeted that Trump “ridiculed my reputation, laughed at my looks, & dragged me through the mud.” She alleges that his comments led to online trolling and death threats against her and cost her regular TV appearances on “Good Morning America” and “Today.” It also, she said, got her fired from Elle, though Elle has denied that was the reason.

One might have thought a distraction such as this would be disastrous for a presidential nomination campaign. But if past is precedent, Trump’s favorability with his GOP base only rises. Remember the recording released during his first run for president in which he said of attractive women, “I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet … And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything ... Grab them by the pussy.”

That passed. Trump won. But imagine the election outcome if Barack Obama had said it. Imagine if the defendant muttering disparaging remarks in court were Black.

Trump has been criminally indicted four times and faces 91 felony charges. A U.S. House committee found “overwhelming” evidence that after fabricating claims of a stolen 2020 election, he urged right-wing extremist groups to swarm the U.S. Capitol in what became the fatal Jan. 6 insurrection. The House impeached him, but the GOP-dominated Senate refused to convict him. Only seven Senate Republicans voted for conviction. (Arizona’s two senators, Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, voted yes.)

So much of America seems to have normalized the absence of social norms when it comes to Trump: his misogyny, his stolen-election claims, his denigration of those who oppose him, his references to Jan. 6 convicts as “hostages.” Still, most of his primary opponents, unable to make the case against him, dropped out pledging their allegiance to him.

Asked of any concerns about Trump, New Hampshire’s Republican primary voters instead raised concerns about threats on him.

In Iowa, 42% of likely Republican caucusgoers told pollsters they were more likely to vote for Trump after his comments about undocumented migrants poisoning America’s blood; 43% said his calls to root out “radical left thugs that live like vermin” upped their likelihood.

In South Carolina, Trump was the top choice among a majority of white evangelical Christians polled as he cruised to victory on Feb. 24. What about family values?
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Former President Donald Trump won nearly 79% percent of the vote in the Arizona Presidential Preference Election on March 19.
Benjamin Leatherman

In Arizona, no party can win without unaffiliated voters

Chuck Coughlin, an Arizona political consultant and evangelical Christian, left the Republican Party in 2017 over Trump’s treatment of then Sen. John McCain. He considers Trump’s GOP dysfunctional and lacking in empathy; its base disaffected, angry and fearful of the conspiracies Trump spews. As Coughlin notes, Trump is skilled at sowing divisions by making the majority think minority groups, whether racial or sexual, are trying to promote their needs over everyone else’s.

But Coughlin discourages reading too much into the large margins by which Trump is beating his GOP competitors. In Iowa, as he reminds us, less than 15 % of registered Republicans voted — the smallest turnout in 10 years.

A record number of Republicans voted in New Hampshire’s primary in January, some three-quarters of them for Trump. But Nikki Haley got six in 10 independents’ votes. In Arizona, Coughlin says, “the winning team has to appeal to the unaffiliated voters. No party can win with only their base vote.” And he says the unaffiliated broke for Democrats in 2018, 2020 and 2022.

But Trump’s spurious ability to lure the disaffected as well as his quips about abusing power from Day 1 for retribution are warning signals of an autocracy if Trump wins back the White House. He could choose a Cabinet that won’t cross him and woo the military to his side. These are not normal times.

“I believe the man for what he says,” conceded Coughlin, who plans to vote for Biden. Nor does his hope for a better outcome rest on Republicans seeing the light. His confidence in a “good outcome” comes partly from trusting “the good Lord.”

Trump scored an easy win on March 19 in Arizona’s Presidential Preference Election, taking nearly 79% of the vote to Haley’s 18%. GOP primary voters again seem unbothered by Trump’s conduct.

If his behavior in and out of office doesn’t meet your standards for a president, if you don’t share his vision for America, consider questioning him, spreading the word about him and getting more people out to vote. Let’s use our democratic rights to ensure that a year from now, we still have them.
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