Donald Trump is "not playing games" with his possible presidential campaign, he insists. "I am totally serious," the reality star told The Wall Street Journal's Neil King Jr. And Trump has indeed taken steps to run a real campaign: sending his top political adviser to Iowa to meeting with fundraisers and Republican officials, promising to sign a pledge to refuse to raise taxes. With Trump now polling strongly GOP voters, the Republican establishment is starting to take his candidacy more seriously. Which means they've started attacking him.
Among signs that Trump is edging out of the fake candidate tier and into the top contender tier: The Club for Growth is criticizing him. Before Trump was speaking before Tea Partiers, he was offering not-quite-so-conservative ideas in his earlier presidential flirtations. In a post titled "Club for Growth to Trump: You're a Liberal!" the organization mocked him as "a tax-hiking liberal whose open flirtation with single-payer health care and warm embrace of protectionism disqualifies him from consideration by conservatives." Karl Rove called Trump a "joke candidate." Charles Krauthammer called him "the Al Sharpton of the Republican Party." Major Republican fundraiser Bobbie Kilberg told King, "Some people may see this as comic relief, but this is not good at all for the Republican Party."
But Sarah Palin, for one, is taking Trump seriously. Tuesday night she criticized reporters for picking on Trump, Politico's Andy Barr reports. Palin said the press is "hammering [Trump] about the one issue that he has brought up and not been shy about--that's the birth certificate. ... He's answering reporters' questions about his view on the birth certificate. And reporters turn that around and say that's all he's got. ... That's not the case."