How far can Trump go?

First US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump insulted the Muslim parents of a fallen soldier, then he was accused of inciting violence against his rival Clinton. Now he has refused to make his tax returns public. He needs to change his mind quickly on this if he doesn't want to ruin his chances of moving into the White House altogether, commentators argue.

Open/close all quotes
Večernji list (HR) /

Fear of transparency

Trump no doubt has good reasons for not making his tax returns public, Večernji list surmises:

“This is something all US presidential hopefuls must sooner or later present to voters. If Trump is refusing to do so it's no doubt because that would mean the end of his candidacy. His tax returns could reveal close ties to Russian oligarchs who have direct links to Putin. It would become clear that people in Putin's immediate entourage control the US presidential candidate. And the tax return would show that he's nowhere near as rich as he maintains, meaning he personifies failure rather than success.”

Diário de Notícias (PT) /

Better off making tax return public

Donald Trump is in danger of putting an end to his own ambitions, Diário de Notícias believes:

“The speculation about Trump's fortune is coming to a head because despite all criticism Trump refuses to publish his tax return. … Trump, who has built up a huge fortune and deserves to be admired for this, should contribute to transparency - particularly since he himself is a harsh critic of the system's lack of transparency. Perhaps he'll change his mind. But above all Trump should not believe that nothing he says or does or doesn't do will affect his bid to move into the White House.”

The New York Times (US) /

Weapons comment was a calculated move

Trump's controversial statement referred to the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which protects people's right to keep and bear arms. Clinton wants to strike the amendment from the Constitution and there is no way to stop her, Trump said, adding: "Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is." The New York Times also sees Trump's words as an incitement to violence:

“The comment was only the latest in a long series of remarks the candidate has made that support and even praise the use of violence. ... The Trump campaign's claim that the candidate was only suggesting that gun-rights advocates use their power at the ballot box rings hollow. Mr. Trump's statement on Tuesday seemed to mark an escalation - he was talking about bullets, not fists. But it was part of a pattern he established early and has maintained throughout his campaign. Mr. Trump is comfortable with the idea of using violence to deal with ideological opponents, and no matter what statements his team puts out after the fact, he wants his supporters to know it.”

Sieci (PL) /

White men could get Trump elected

Trump continues to receive widespread support from the American middle class despite his verbal faux pas, news magazine wSieci observes:

“If one of the candidates now mobilises certain social groups and wins them over as voters it could have a decisive impact on the election outcome. Trump has put his all into mobilising one group whose economic and social situation is not that bad, a group that feels a strong bond with America and is disappointed that it is losing its influence in the country. These are the white men of Western-European descent with an average education. They are conservative-minded and work mostly in industry. In the past they represented the majority of active voters, but now they're in the minority and feel powerless.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Trump has taken the pin out of the grenade

The Republican candidate has created a breeding ground for violence with his comments, The Irish Times warns:

“From where Trump is standing, decency is a speck on the horizon. Over the course of the campaign, his rhetoric has moved from bullish to dangerous, from stupid to vindictive. A certain amount of this is reminiscent of the Tea Party crazies at their height. ... It is common sense that creating an atmosphere of intimidation and violence causes intimidation and violence. Cause and effect. The recent murder of Jo Cox on the streets of West Yorkshire during the vitriolic Brexit campaign shows what happens when politicians take the pin out of a grenade and then try to deflect responsibility for the explosion.”

Kurier (AT) /

Republicans must pull the rip cord

After Trump's latest attacks the Republicans need to find a new presidential nominee as quickly as possible, Kurier demands:

“The real estate tycoon is a 'pain in the ass', as the Americans would say. Absolutely dreadful for the whole US. Because it is shameful that the country that produced Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy (both of whom were assassinated, however) must now put up with such a hooligan. The Republicans are in a dramatic predicament but it's their own fault. First they didn't take this political clown seriously and then when they finally did it was too late. Reluctantly, the great majority backed Trump. A huge mistake, as it turns out. The party needs to quickly pull the rip cord and fire this man - also for the sake of its own integrity.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Clinton can start redecorating the Oval Office

Tages-Anzeiger also sees Trump's statements as further confirmation that he is completely unfit to be president:

“There is little to suggest that Trump's bloopers are planned. To what end? Rather, everything points to him being incapable of anything else. Trump is simply not able to control what he says - a precondition for any election campaign. That helped him in the primaries. But his biggest advantage back then - his unpredictability and recklessness - has now become his biggest disadvantage. As things stand Hillary Clinton can start selecting new carpets for the White House. But perhaps she'll leave that to house husband Bill.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

What happens when populists talk too much

Populists like Trump generally put themselves out of the running, El Periódico de Catalunya believes:

“Trump's failure could fortify the wall against populist demagogues. It has become more solid since Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage were frightened off by the result of the Brexit vote. Once again that shows that the best answer to populists is not for established parties to integrate their ideas in their own platforms, as is now happening in the EU on the refugee issue. No, the best thing is to let the charlatans get caught up in their own web of lies. ... The long time frame of the primaries is unbearable for people like Trump. They start calling on people to take up arms against their rivals: a clear sign that Trump himself believes he stands little chance of winning.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Presidential candidate is a security risk

50 Republican national security experts have warned in an open letter against electing Donald Trump as US president. And rightly so, De Volkskrant comments:

“In recent months Trump has made statement after statement questioning the foundations of US foreign policy. For example - nota bene Nato allies - he refuses to give the Baltic states any security guarantees, effectively undermining the very essence of the Western Alliance. ... But the most worrying thing is the frivolous way he talks about nuclear weapons. 'If we have them, why can't we use them?', Trump is said to have asked one security expert. ... The fact that these 50 Republican experts have now publicly expressed their concerns about the recklessness and ignorance of the man who could be entrusted with the American nuclear launch codes must give the Americans plenty to chew on. One of them went on to say: 'Security policy is not a reality game.'”

BNS (LT) /

A narrow defeat would be good news for Trump

Perhaps the White House isn’t Donald Trump's real goal, political scientist Linas Kojala reflects for news agency BNS:

“Half seriously, half jokingly the Americans are discussing whether Trump really wants to move into the White House, because if he did he would have to make good on his populist promises. … Some have speculated that the optimal outcome for him would be to narrowly lose the election. Then he could say that political system had joined forces against him and prevented him from winning. Although the elections are still far off Trump is already talking about the threat of a rigged vote, almost as if he's trying to make sure he won't get the blame. If he does lose the election, for millions of his fans he will continue to be the hero who fought against the despised elite. It's easy to imagine how much his image would benefit from that.”

Polityka (PL) /

Trumpism has become socially acceptable

Donald Trump has unleashed populist forces that won't disappear even if he loses the election, Adam Szostkiewicz of the centre-left news magazine Polityka fears:

“Trump, the Republican candidate for the US presidency, has made one blunder after another since his nomination. This is worsening the chaos that reigns in the Republican Party and boosting Hillary Clinton's approval ratings ahead of the election. Trump's dip in the polls may be a fact but it's not yet certain that he will lose. … Yet populism in the form of Trumpism is spreading rapidly. This contravenes the rules of democracy that have applied until now, for instance when Trump attacked the parents of a Muslim US soldier who died in Afghanistan. The problem is that he has invoked spirits that won't be banished so easily. Not even if he loses against Clinton.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Trump's statements reminiscent of Hitler's

Trump's call for Muslims to be banned from entering the US reminds author Miljenko Jergović, writing in Jutarnji list, of the darkest times:

“At its core Trump's opinion and statement is no different to the proclamations of the National Socialists against the Jews in 1931, 1932 and 1933. … His attitude regarding the US Soldier Khan makes it clear that Trump - probably without realising it - has adopted the stance the Nazis took towards the Jews, who were the heroes of the First World War. Honoured with the Federal Cross of Merit they were sent to the gas chambers - the medals did nothing to help them because they were Jews. … In Hitler's Germany you weren't a Jew because you considered Jewish but because Hitler said you were. No, I'm not talking in hyperboles, and no, I don't want to say that Trump is the new Hitler. Hitler was poor and Trump is rich. There is no belief and no idea for the sake of which he would sacrifice his wealth.”

Kauppalehti (FI) /

Candidate tearing his party apart

Trump is dividing the Republican Party instead of uniting it, Kauppalehti writes in view of the presidential candidate's latest remarks:

“Calls for unity have rung out in both of the big parties - and in the entire country. In forcing a growing number of Republicans to side against him, it could be that Trump has done much to fuel such sentiment. According to political commentators Trump's campaign - and the entire Republican Party - are experiencing the worst crisis of this campaign and perhaps even their entire history. ... After his nomination in the spring Trump threatened to rip the 'corrupt Hillary' to pieces. Now it looks as if it's the Grand Old Party that's being ripped to shreds.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Elites to blame for Trump cult

Trump's voters are spurred on above all by the anger they feel against the elites, Večernji list believes:

“Trump's slogan 'Make America great again' is aimed at people whose days are taken up by their work, family and community. Gradually they are starting to seethe with rage at the daily insults to their intelligence and values they receive at the hands of the loud and powerful supporters of today's elite. You can't go on and on calling someone an idiot with impunity - sooner or later he is going to hit back. ... And when you insult a large part of the population you can expect a drastic - even excessive - corrective.”

Latvijas Avīze (LV) /

The danger isn't what he says

A president Trump would be bad news for the Baltic states - not because he himself would be dangerous, but because he would give free rein to Putin, Latvijas avīze points out:

“Trump has already confused enough observers across the world with his bewildering statements about Nato, Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea and Putin. On the one hand we're not supposed to worry because it's all pure election propaganda, on the other we're supposed to be concerned when a person who can't govern his own tongue is elected president of the United States. Because that could be bad for the world - and for Latvia. Above all regarding Nato and Russia. ... If Trump is elected it won't be a question of how far he will go, but of whether - and when - Putin's Russia will take another step. And that will be bad and dangerous news for the Baltic states.”

Irish Examiner (IE) /

This breach of taboo not appreciated

Donald Trump has overstepped one of the few hard-and-fast boundaries in US political discourse, the Irish Examiner comments:

“Up to now there were still millions of Americans who felt Trump was a breath of fresh air in US politics and the only major political figure who understood their needs, their concerns, and their sense of alienation. His anti-Muslim pronouncements and his threat to build a wall along the Mexican border horrified Republican grandees but it played into the fears and prejudices of middle America. Now, though, it looks like he has finally gone too far. There are few things that are off limits in American political discourse, but members of the military who died in the service of their country is one of them.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Trump can get away with more than we believe

Those who think Trump may have gone too far this time may be proven wrong, Der Standard counters:

“Trump's voters aren't 'the Republicans' we have known since the times of Nixon, Reagan an the Bushs, whose choice was prompted not just by their outlook on life but also by sober and rational considerations. No: Trump's voters, the ones who may make all the difference, are those of whom we hadn't seen anything yet, who never took part in the political discourse before, who had never registered to vote. These people have decided to vote for Trump not because of his party's ideology or a balanced assessment of the facts or in the hope of securing advantages, but because this is what their gut feeling is telling them to do - that is where their anger lies: the anger at 'the system' which they blame for their problems. Trump is able to trigger this reflex like no other. We may well marvel yet at all the things Trump can get away with with impunity.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Candidate picked on the wrong people

With his disparaging remarks about the Muslim parents of a fallen US soldier the Republican nominee may have crossed the line, The Guardian comments:

“Why he chose to counter-punch against a bereaved family is hard to fathom. The Khans aren’t career politicians; they are ordinary immigrant citizens who suffered extraordinary loss for their adopted country. ... But it’s one thing to punch in your own heavyweight class of public figures on a debate stage. It’s another thing entirely to punch down to a regular citizen. And it’s wholly unprecedented to punch the most respected regular citizens of all: the patriotic parents of a fallen war hero.”

Kristeligt Dagblad (DK) /

Religious issues are crucial for the vote

After Republican nominee Trump called his rival Hillary Clinton "the devil" Kristeligt Dagblad asks which of the two better represents the important Christian voters:

“Trump's latest blunder raises the question of how the many churchgoers in the US will vote. … The large number of moderate Christians in many US communities are understandably confused right now. Trump's attitude towards women, his divorces and his patent ignorance when it comes to the Bible and Christianity won't recommend him to them. But will Hillary be able to reach the Christian voters who are critical of abortion, for example? … The economy, immigration, the threat of war can all decide the outcome of the election. But politicians and the media alike are leaving a key factor out of the equation if they neglect the importance of religious issues and values for the average American.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Trump a danger for the "free world"

A victory for Trump in the US elections would have catastrophic consequences for the rest of the world because it would play right into Russia's hands, Večernji list warns:

“If he wasn't such an idiot one would say that Trump is the Russian candidate for the post of president in America. But he's certainly a useful idiot. Useful for Russia's neo-imperial politics. For instance he apparently announced that he wouldn't automatically accept Article 5 of the Nato treaty, according to which an attack on one Nato state is an attack on the entire alliance. Isn't that a direct invitation for the Russians to swallow up a piece of territory belonging to one of the Baltic Nato states like they did with Crimea? … If Trump becomes president and thus leader of the 'free world', that world will have to deal with a number of consequences. Populists and self-appointed lay politicians will try to oust the moderate professional politicians.”

Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

A good grasp of the American spirit

Trump could benefit from the fact that the average American he is trying to reach wants nothing more than to see the US's role as global policeman come to an end, Magyar Nemzet believes:

“Trump has shown in campaigning up to now that there is method to his madness. While Clinton views the world with the eyes of the political elite, Trump concentrates on the man on the street, while at the same time not being afraid to break taboos with demagogy. And he seems to have hit the nail on the head. The people of the US have had enough of America's traditional global ambitions. What they want in today's world is calm and prosperity: hegemonic glory means little to them. ... Trump has sussed out the true desires of the American spirit and has efficiently translated the US's imperialist dreams of grandeur into everyday language.”