Having found itself in the gutter some time ago, the Donald Trump campaign now appears intent on slithering its way down into the sewer itself.
Trump has learned over the past few months that the people who attend his rallies will cheer delightedly when he spouts barely-camouflaged racism, outright sexism and religious bigotry. Evidently, he’s decided to find out just how low his supporters’ bar really is when it comes to what kind of thing it’s acceptable for a presidential candidate to say.
The Republican frontrunner, in a campaign event in Michigan Monday, was weirdly fixated on the fact that Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton took a bathroom break when commercials were aired during Saturday’s Democratic debate. No fewer than four separate times, Trump referred to Clinton’s leaving the stage.
Clinton was a few moments late returning to the stage when commercials ended, and Trump repeatedly remarked on it, saying at one point, “I know where she went. It's disgusting. I don't want to talk about it. No, it's too disgusting. Don't say it. It's disgusting.”
When he wasn’t treating his cheering supporters to second-grade-level bathroom jokes, Trump was upping the ante on boorish behavior by making crude sexual references to the leading Democrat in the race.
On stage in Grand Rapids, Trump used a slang term for a penis to describe what he said happened to Clinton when she ran against Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary.
“She was favored to win. And she got schlonged,” Trump said, turning the vulgar Yiddish noun into a verb with an unmistakable meaning. “She lost. I mean, she lost.”
The Clinton campaign refused to respond directly to the comment, but in a tweet Clinton’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri wrote, “We are not responding to Trump but everyone who understands the humiliation this degrading language inflicts on all women should.”
Early on Monday, Trump also castigated the fact-checking organization Politifact, which yesterday announced its annual Lie of the Year. Breaking tradition, it bestowed the ignominious award not on one statement, but on Trump’s entire mendacious oeuvre.
“In considering our annual Lie of the Year, we found our only real contenders were Trump’s -- his various statements also led our Readers’ Poll. But it was hard to single one out from the others. So we have rolled them into one big trophy,” the editors wrote.
Never a fan of the media on a good day, the ruling may have provoked an even stronger than usual condemnation of the press from the candidate Monday night.
Trump riffed on recent controversy surrounding a virtual endorsement of his candidacy by Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, which Trump happily accepted. Afterward, he defended Putin against critics who note that journalists and political opponents who have publicly challenged Putin often die violently.
As he has done in multiple appearances now, Trump directed his audience’s attention to the members of the media covering his rally. As the crowd turned to look at the reporters, Trump pointed at the reporters present and said some are “lying, disgusting people.”
“I would never kill them, but I do hate them,” Trump said.