A sect of the Republican establishment showed Tuesday it's taking Donald Trump's presidential bid seriously. And not in a good way.
In a new television ad released Tuesday, the conservative Club For Growth compares the real estate mogul's policy positions to those of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
"Which presidential candidate supports higher taxes, national health care, and the Wall Street bailout? It's Donald Trump!" the ad says. "Trump wants us to think he's Mr. Tell It Like It Is, but he has a record, and it's very liberal. He's really just playing us for chumps."
Not once but twice in the span of the 30-second video, the Club For Growth deploys a 2004 interview clip of Trump saying, "In many cases, I probably identify more as a Democrat."
Another Club For Growth ad released Tuesday accuses Trump of supporting "eminent domain abuse" to allow corporations to seize and demolish private property.
The Club For Growth plans to spend $1 million airing its anti-Trump ads in Iowa, which looks like peanuts when you consider that the pro-Jeb Bush super PAC Right To Rise is mounting a $5.89 million ad campaign in Iowa this week.
But as the political world girds itself for the second GOP debate with Trump at center stage, factions of the Republican Party are indicating they won't let up on their intraparty Trump fight until he's pushed out of the primary.
The rift between the establishment and Trump's fan base was made abundantly clear on Tuesday. As the Republican National Committee released a statement celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month, Trump was coming off a rally in Dallas where one of his supporters reportedly called Mexicans "the hairs of assholes" and told a female protester, "Clean my hotel room, bitch."
Despite the racist invective his candidacy has inspired in his more hard-core supporters, Trump continues to lead the Republican polls. A New York Times/CBS poll released Tuesday found that Trump's appeal to Republican voters has increased from 24 percent to 27 since early August.
The same poll found that Dr. Ben Carson—a more civil messenger than Trump—has seen significant gains, rising from 6 percent to 23 percent over the same time period. If the Republican establishment is casting about for an outsider candidate to take Trump's place without embarrassing the party, Carson may be their best bet.