trump nv rally
U.S. Republican presidential candidate and businessman Donald Trump has shrugged off escalating criticism from establishment conservatives, including a recent issue f the National Review devoted almost entirely to opposing his candidacy. Above: Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the South Point Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada January 21, 2016. REUTERS/David Becker

The war between Donald Trump and mainstream conservatism escalated on Friday with the National Review’s publication of “Against Trump” a un-endorsement of the Republican frontrunner ahead of the party’s early primary contests. The editorial attacks Trumps conservative credentials, marking his flips on abortion, gun control and single payer health care. At the crescendo of their assault: Trump’s pledge to make Mexico pay for a border wall, and his plan to round up and deport millions of immigrants. Trump responded with a hail of invective, in particular a criticism of the magazine’s profitability.

The Republican National Committee is also wary of Trump becoming their standard bearer, but decided that the explicit editorial position from the National Review went too far. In response, the RNC disinvited the NR from participating in future GOP debates (news that Trump immediately trumpetweeted to his trumpeteers).

The National Review appears to understand that it was falling on the sword, or at least the toothpick, by taking its editorial stance.

“We expected this was coming. Small price to pay for speaking the truth about The Donald,” wrote NR’s Jack Fowler in response.

As for the NR’s indictments of Trump’s policies, The editorial board describes Trump as “a philosophically unmoored political opportunist” seeking to replace the traditional GOP with “free-floating populism with strong-man overtones.”

Here are a few choice paragraphs from the editorial that focus on immigration. You can read the entire “Against Trump” editorial here.

On Hypocrisy

“Even on immigration, Trump often makes no sense and can’t be relied upon. A few short years ago, he was criticizing Mitt Romney for having the temerity to propose “self-deportation,” or the entirely reasonable policy of reducing the illegal population through attrition while enforcing the nation’s laws. Now, Trump is a hawk’s hawk.”

On Deporting All Undocumented Immigrants

“Trump pledges to deport the 11 million illegals here in the United States [and then readmit many of them], a herculean administrative and logistical task beyond the capacity of the federal government [....] This plan wouldn’t survive its first contact with reality.”

On The Wall

“We need more fencing at the border, but the promise to make Mexico pay for it is silly bluster.”

We would include Trump’s rebuttals to these arguments but he hasn’t made them yet, either in his tweets public statements or in a written response. We’ll update this if he does.

The NR editorial may be the most clear-headed case thus far in the 2016 campaign for the survival of mainstream conservatism against the populist onslaught of Trump (and Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina, and the Tea Party movement.) It also identifies how Trump is hurting their brand.

The National Review’s Cover:

Trump fires back.

For all his complaints about the NR’s attacks on him, Trump has in the past recognized the magazine’s significance amongst conservatives.

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