During a rough debate in Houston Thursday night, Republican Donald Trump found himself frequently on defense as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio aggressively double-teamed the front-runner. Trump had a rough first hour, but closed pretty strong. One of his best moments during that first hour came when Trump reminded viewers that he is expanding the Republican party.
When pressured on how he can win a general election by a questioner from the left-wing Telemundo, Trump mocked Telemundo’s honesty before pivoting to the excitement his campaign is generating, the record turnout we have seen in the states that have voted thus far, and his appeal to voters outside the Republican Party:
But one thing I’m also going to do, I’m going to be getting — bringing a lot of people in who are Democrats, who are independents, and you’re seeing that with the polls, because if you look at anywhere, look at any of the elections, every single election, it has been record-setting.
And the good news is, for the Republican Party, the Democrats are getting very poor numbers in terms of bringing them in. We’re getting record-setting numbers. I think I have something to do with that.
We’re getting record-setting numbers. And I won every one — the three of them that I won, I won with record-setting numbers.
New people are coming into the Republican Party. We are building a new Republican Party, a lot of new people are coming in. …
But I’m telling you also, I’m bringing people, Democrats over and I’m bringing independents over, and we’re building a much bigger, much stronger Republican Party.
Trump has been running a general election campaign since the beginning. Even tonight, while promising to defund Planned Parenthood if they continue to perform abortions, the frontrunner did praise the abortion provider for services like cancer screenings for the poor. He also committed to dismantling ObamaCare while ensuring the poor receive government health care.
Moreover, Trump has bucked the Party line on the absolutism of free trade, on taxing some of the wealthy, and he refuses to dishonestly promise he will throw out Obama’s Iran deal.
Trump’s signature attacks on the trade deals that have decimated working class jobs throughout the Midwest, is a direct appeal to the legions of voters in the rustbelt states that both political parties have ignored for decades.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC