The latest to distance itself from Mr Trump is Nascar, the motor racing body, which said it would no longer use one of his hotels for its end-of-season awards. Speaking to Fox News yesterday, Mr Trump, 69, said he was surprised by Nascar’s decision and at the strength of the backlash.
“I knew it was going to be bad because all my life I have been told: if you are successful you don’t run for office,” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to be this severe.”
But he defended his stance and said he had become a “whipping post” for speaking up on immigration and crime.The lone fellow candidate to speak up for Mr Trump was Ted Cruz, the Texas senator whose father is Cuban, saying he “speaks the truth”.
This is what attracts grassroots supporters such as Ken Crow, a leader of the Tea Party in the first-voting caucus of Iowa. He reeled off a list of reasons why he was backing Mr Trump. “Americans are sick and tired of corrupt government and career politicians,” he said. “He will straighten out the economy and defend our borders. Americans want a John Wayne right now, someone who’ll be a champion of our country.”
The Trump candidacy is playing up strains between Tea Party activists and senior party figures, with Mr Fleischer adding that his comments were irresponsible and “hurtful”.
And John Weaver, an adviser on John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, noted: “I remember growing up in Kermit [Texas], every time the carnival came to town it drew a big crowd. But nobody wanted the carnival barker to be mayor.”