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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

DeWitt: In the Republican Party, the antiestablishment has become the establishment



Dan DeWitt, Tampa Bay Times' Hernando columnist, writes about growing popular support for GOP candidates "whom we used to think of as on the fringe."


Yet another disappointing but unsurprising reaction - or, in this case, nonreaction - from Republican leaders:

As Times political editor Adam C. Smith reported last week, neither Gov. Rick Scott nor our own Blaise Ingoglia, condemned Donald Trump's call to temporarily ban Muslim immigration.

In one way, Ingoglia's failure to join many other state Republican leaders and say the obvious, that such a ban would be unconstitutional and bigoted, is almost as outrageous as the statement itself.

In another way, what else would a self-interested politician do? Look at the results of the most recent New York Times/CBS News poll, and not just the widely reported fact that it showed Trump expanding his lead over his party's rivals, now with the support of 35 percent of likely Republican voters.

Almost as alarming, Sen. Ted Cruz, the preferred candidate of 16 percent of the voters, is in second place and rising fast. Ben Carson, though fading, still has the support of 13 percent of the voters.

You don't need advanced math to figure out that the combined backing of these three "antiestablishment" candidates adds up to a solid majority of Republican voters. In fact, it's almost two-thirds.

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[Last modified: Thursday, December 17, 2015 10:43am]


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