Will the GOP Base Tolerate Donald Trump's Attack on Ben Carson?

The billionaire suggested that his Republican opponent is a liar, and likened his temper to a "pathological disease" as incurable as that of a child molester.

Scott Morgan / Reuters

During a 95-minute speech Thursday, Donald Trump delivered a scathing attack on Ben Carson, his closest rival in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination.

It makes for the primary’s most fascinating moment thus far.

Had traitor RINOs in the GOP establishment or godless liberals in the mainstream media told Iowa Republicans that the retired neurosurgeon is like a child molester and that his supporters are stupid, the base would’ve erupted with fury. It’s just like those coastal elites to be egregiously unfair to a nice man like Carson.

Here is what Trump said about Carson:

...he wrote a book. And in the book he said terrible things about himself. He said that he’s pathological and that he’s got basically a pathological disease. Now he wrote this I guess before he was running for office or thought that he was running for office. And I don’t want a person that’s got pathological disease. I don’t want it. I’m not saying he’s got it, he said it.

This isn’t something that I’m saying, like “Oh, he’s pathological liar.” I’m not saying it! He said he’s got pathological disease. He actually said pathological temper.

And then he defined it as disease. So he said he has pathological disease.

Now. If you’re pathological, there’s no cure for that, folks.

Okay, there’s no cure for that. And I did one of the shows today. And I don’t want to say what I said. But I’ll tell you anyway. I said that if you’re a child molester, a sick puppy, you’re a child molester, there’s no cure for that. There’s only one cure—we don’t want to talk about that cure. That’s the ultimate cure. Well, there’s two, there’s death, and the other thing.

After the castration talk, Trump got back to attacking Carson, declaring, “He said he went after his mother with a hammer. He hit her on the head, or he wanted to hit her on the head, or he hit her on the head. And I said, wow, that’s tough. Man. Did anybody in this audience ever go after their mother to hit her with a hammer?” Then he vacillated between implying that Carson is an unstable thug who can’t be trusted in office because of violent things that he wrote about in his memoir, and declaring that his memoir is obvious bullshit that only dupes would believe.

Later still, in a part of his speech that is unlikely to endear him to Iowa evangelicals, Trump declared that Carson’s story of conversion and his religiosity are frauds. “Give me a break,” he said. “It doesn’t happen that way. Some people may not like it. Oh, that’s not nice. Don’t be fools. Don’t be fools, okay … And I don’t care, I may leave here and you may say, oh, that was not nice what he said. Who cares? I go back to my life, I don’t have to do interviews, which I don’t like doing to be honest with you.”(That last part may be the least credible thing Trump has ever said.)

He continued, “I can leave this scum back here, the press, alone—I won’t need them anymore. They’re garbage. No, they’re scum. I don’t have to deal with them anymore… What the hell have we come to when we have to believe this kind of stuff and we’re going to put somebody in office who considers himself to have pathological disease!”

Some Iowa polls suggest that more voters are supporting Carson than Trump. It’s really something for Trump to tell them that they’re morons as he tries to win them over.

Donald Trump 2016: Vote For Me Or You’re Horrible.

This speech will now be regurgitated all over the right. To what effect?

Whether it hurts Trump, Carson, or both, Marco Rubio is a potential beneficiary. Heck, it could even help Jeb Bush, who seems more stable than Carson is portrayed in this narrative, and would never utter the sorts of ugly, off-putting attacks Trump engaged in (Bushes never fight dirty—they hire people to do it for them).

But what I’m most interested in is if this hurts Trump or Carson more.

If a host on The View talked about Carson like that, she would be enemy number one on the talk radio right for weeks. Advocacy groups would use the videoclip in fundraising pitches. Masses on Facebook would furiously speak out in his defense. But I don’t know how GOP voters react to a harsh attack like that delivered by the other outsider primary favorite with a self-cultivated reputation for telling it like it is.

Isn’t Trump less fair to Carson than the liberal media, grassroots right? Yay or nay, it is as clear as ever that in contesting the GOP nomination he is willing to go scorched earth to win. The next Republican debate promises to be an interesting night.