Jill Colvin, ABC News, July 22, 2015
Republican presidential contender Rick Perry branded Donald Trump’s candidacy a “cancer on conservatism” Wednesday in the strongest denunciation yet of the billionaire’s provocations in the campaign.
Perry’s blistering criticism came after Trump announced plans to visit the Mexico border, a flashpoint in the primary contest ever since he declared that immigrants from Mexico are rapists and drug dealers.
Trump’s announcement signaled there would be no backing down–indeed, a possible further escalation–in his feud with presidential rivals and other figures in the party. That feud was sparked by his comments about immigrants last month and accelerated when he mocked Arizona Sen. John McCain’s experience as a tortured prisoner in the Vietnam War.
“He offers a barking carnival act that can be best described as Trumpism: a toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued,” Perry said in a speech in Washington hosted by a super political action committee supporting his campaign.
“Let no one be mistaken,” Perry said, “Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded. It cannot be pacified or ignored, for it will destroy a set of principles that has lifted more people out of poverty than any force in the history of the civilized world–the cause of conservatism.”
Trump plans to travel to Laredo, Texas, on Thursday, where he will hold a news conference at the border, meet members of the union that represents Border Patrol agents and speak to law enforcement officers, his campaign said.
Jeb Bush, in South Carolina, was asked about the coming primary debates, for which Trump is expected to qualify based on his performance in polls. “This will be a first for me,” Bush said, “so I’m not certain how all this plays out.”
A day earlier he said Trump’s rhetoric is “divisive, it’s ugly, it’s mean-spirited,” but people who support him have “legitimate concerns about the country.”
In a speech Tuesday to hundreds of supporters in Bluffton, South Carolina, Trump kept on McCain, accusing him of being soft on illegal immigration.
“He’s totally about open borders and all this stuff,” Trump said.
McCain roused Trump’s temper last week when the senator said the businessman’s inflammatory remarks about Mexican immigrants had brought out the “crazies.”