If there was one thing a Republican candidate was not supposed to say in South Carolina, with its big military population, it was that George W Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In a primary debate in February last year, with Jeb Bush standing near him on stage, Donald Trump said it anyway.
There were some boos on the night, but Trump won South Carolina by about 10 points and Bush dropped out of the race. Clearly, attacking fellow Republicans and their shibboleths was no bar to the party’s nomination. Perhaps it was the key.
Trump’s adversarial approach to his own party is the normal state of affairs, not the exception. He was always a non-ideological third-party candidate who happened to wear Republican colours, appalling its country club establishment. He saw himself as the leader of an extra-political movement. Tellingly, on Twitter, he refers to Republicans as “they” rather than “we”.
After an uneasy truce over seven months which got the conservative Neil Gorsuch into the vacant seat on the supreme court but which could not repeal and replace Barack Obama’s healthcare law, the president has reverted to type.
Trump and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who ought to be his chief ally on Capitol Hill, have not spoken for weeks after a phone call descended into an angry shouting match, according to multiple media reports. Instead the president has taken to lambasting McConnell for the healthcare debacle on Twitter, a habit that the wily Kentucky senator is known to disdain.
On Thursday, Trump broadened the assault to include House speaker Paul Ryan over an upcoming headache –…
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