Donald Trump has gained frontrunner status in the Republican primaries by being the anti-politician, speaking his mind no matter who might be offended. By the standard political playbook, this would be disastrous; it’s typical to be measured and thoughtful, avoiding gaffes as much as possible. But Trump’s support has been built on not acting like a typical politician, and in fact going against that standard by being unafraid to offend.
This has set the tone for a deeply personal race, with Ted Cruz currently second in delegate count to Trump. Recent dialogue has centered on each candidate’s wife. First, there was a story without reliable sources that Cruz had many extramarital affairs. Trump denied that he was involved with this story, but did threaten to “spill the beans” on Heidi, Cruz’s wife. He stated, “There are things about Heidi that I don’t want to talk about. You could look, but I don’t want to talk about them.” On the other side of the coin, Cruz was accused of being behind a Super PAC mailer that showed Trump’s wife, Melania, wearing few clothes in a past modeling shoot.
There are months to go until the Republican Convention this summer, and such tactics are likely to only ramp up. Unfortunately, this has centered the campaigns more on personalities and attacks, rather than policy. One would hope that as we enter the general election, the tone will shift towards who is best qualified to become President.