WASHINGTON — After vanquishing more than a dozen Republican rivals with a shock-and-awe primary campaign, Donald Trump is about to learn whether that same strategy can deliver him the White House.
The most unconventional major party nominee in decades, Trump has emerged as a movement candidate with a knack for packing places with devoted followers who feel the system’s been rigged against them. At the same time, he’s alienated minorities, women and many members of his own party, leaving his path to victory increasingly slim.
A look at some things to know about him.
A year and a half ago, the reality television star and billionaire real estate developer was largely dismissed as an attention-seeking showman who had little intention of actually entering the race. But since announcing his candidacy, Trump has upended the presidential contest, seizing his party’s nomination despite breaking every rule.
Trump’s campaign can be charted in inflammatory statements, each seemingly more outrageous than the last. After kicking off his campaign by saying the Mexican government sends criminals across the U.S. border illegally, he’s questioned Arizona Sen. John McCain’s status as a war hero. He’s called for temporarily banning foreign Muslims from entering the country (then backed away from the plan), gone after the family of a slain soldier that criticized him, got into an extended verbal tiff with a former Latina beauty queen and belittled the appearances of some of the women who have accused him of sexual assault in the campaign’s final weeks.
The son of a New York real estate developer, Trump grew up in an upper-income section of Queens and quickly joined his father’s business after graduating from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Lured by the tall buildings and bright lights, Trump moved across the East River and set his sights on Manhattan.
Over the following decades, Trump’s reputation grew, not only for his assets but for his made-for-New-York-tabloid exploits. He became a national household name with the success of the hit television show, “The Apprentice,” and earned credentials in some conservative circles as he questioned the fact that President Barack Obama was born in the United States.
The campaign promise best associated with Trump is his plan to build a wall along the length of the border with Mexico to stop the flow of migrants. And, Trump says, he’ll make the Mexican government pay for it. Trump has also vowed to restrict legal immigration dramatically as well as deport millions of people living in the country illegally who have committed crimes beyond their immigration offenses. And he says he’ll renegotiate the country’s trade deals and threatens to slap a 35 percent tariff on goods produced by manufacturers that move jobs overseas.
After the first presidential debate, Trump patted himself on the back for not bringing up former President Bill Clinton’s indiscretions.
He’d said on stage: “You want to know the truth? I was going to say something extremely rough to Hillary, to her family, and I said to myself, ‘I can’t do it. I just can’t do it. It’s inappropriate. It’s not nice.'”
By the second debate, with his campaign in deeper trouble, Trump and his aides abandoned such veiled niceties and invoked the nuclear option, inviting three women who had accused rival Hillary Clinton’s husband of sexual harassment or assault decades ago. An hour before the debate, Trump held a jaw-dropping appearance with the accusers, an unprecedented abandonment of political decorum to make a personal attack.
MOMENT TO REMEMBER
Where to start? He acted out a near-homicide scene from a primary rival’s autobiography. He convened that press conference with women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct against them. He’s unleashed Twitter bombshells galore in the wee hours.
But perhaps the most symbolic moments were the enormous rallies Trump held in the summer of 2015, including one in Mobile, Alabama, that drew tens of thousands. At that point it was clear Trump had tapped into a deep and festering anger that had been largely overlooked.
That time he joked about dating his daughter, if only the two weren’t related. A series of derogatory comments aimed at women. Dozens of potentially offensive tweets, including several re-tweets of accounts linked to white supremacists. His caught-on-camera boasts from 2005 about being able to grope any woman he wanted without permission because he’s famous, and his subsequent attempts to discredit a number of women who have accused him of sexual assault.
Trump’s refusal to play by the rules has earned him legions of loyal supporters. But his comments have also fed fuel to critics who say he does not have the temperament or judgment to be president.
ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA
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