One question is dominating the political discussion of the Republican presidential primary: How is Donald Trump crushing the rest of the candidates when he’s so crazy? The New York Times recently hosted a debate on the topic.
(For the purposes of this discussion “crazy” is shorthand for “politically reckless” rather than an offensive way to describe a real psychological disorder.)
Trump currently leads the field by more than 10 points nationally, according to the Real Clear Politics average. He has nearly as much support as his two closest competitors combined.
Trump has said some crazy things. Pundits predicted his downfall when he characterized Mexican immigrants as “rapists.” But that comment seemed to cement his popularity among Republican voters. His support was supposed to crater again when he suggested John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was captured. Instead, he emerged from that controversy stronger.
These comments and his flashy style have led many to conclude his candidacy is “unserious.”
But is Trump really any “crazier” than the rest of the GOP field? Consider one quote from each of the other major Republican candidates and decide for yourself.
Lindsey Graham: I will unilaterally execute any American who I believe is “thinking about joining al-Qaeda or ISIL”
CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
“If I’m president of the United States and you’re thinking about joining al-Qaeda or ISIL [the Islamic State], I’m not gonna call a judge. I’m gonna call a drone and we will kill you.” Graham was responding to a suggestion by Rand Paul that the government seek a warrant before obtaining you phone records.
Rand Paul: There is a secret plot to merge the United States with Mexico and Canada
CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles
“I saw the YouTube of [former Mexican president] Vincente Fox talking about [the single North American currency] the Amero. So, it’s not a secret. Now it may not be [here] tomorrow, but it took ’em 20 or 30 years to get the Euro, and they had to push people kicking and screaming…. But I guarantee you it’s one of their long term goals to have one sort of borderless, mass continent.” Paul linked the plot to the “NAFTA superhighway,” which also doesn’t exist.
Ben Carson: Homosexuality is a choice because people go into prison straight and come out gay
CREDIT: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
Ted Cruz: Every United States senator should be just like notorious racist Jesse Helms
CREDIT: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
Rick Santorum: Women should not be allowed to serve in combat because of “the emotions that are involved”
CREDIT: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
“I do have concerns about women in frontline combat. I think that can be a very compromising situation where — where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interests of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved. And I think that’s probably — you know, it already happens, of course, with the camaraderie of men in combat. But it’s — but it’s — I think it would be even more unique if women were in combat,” Santorum said in a 2012 interview with CNN.
Mike Huckabee: Democrats want women to believe “they can’t control their libido”
CREDIT: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
“[I]f the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.”
Bobby Jindal: Muslims have created “no-go zones” in Europe
CREDIT: AP Photo/Joe Skipper
“In the West, non-assimilationist Muslims establish enclaves and carry out as much of Sharia law as they can…It is startling to think that any country would allow, even unofficially, for a so-called ‘no-go zone,” Jindal said. He stuck by the comments even after Fox News and others apologized for making for making similarly false claims.
Jeb Bush: We have to “phase out” Medicare
CREDIT: AP Photo/J Pat Carter
“[We need to figure out a way to phase out this program [Medicare],” Bush suggested at a recent townhall meeting. Bush has mused that government health care programs like Obamacare could be replaced by advances in medical technology, like the Apple Watch. Medicare currently provides essentially health coverage for 50 million poor and disabled Americans.
Rick Perry: Being homosexual is just like being an alcoholic
CREDIT: AP Photo/Brennan Linsley
“I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way,” Perry said, speaking at an event in San Francisco.
Scott Walker: “I don’t know” if Obama is really a Christian
CREDIT: AP Photo/Erik Schelzig
John Kasich to African American legislator upset that his cabinet lacked diversity: ‘I don’t need your people’
CREDIT: AP Photo/Steven Senne
Kasich’s staff confirmed he made the comments to State Senator Nina Turner, who was upset that Kasich, who is Ohio’s Governor, didn’t have more diversity in his cabinet. At the time, Kasich had appointed 22 people, all of whom were white.
Marco Rubio: Humans aren’t responsible for climate change.
CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
“Our climate is always changing. I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” Rubio told ABC. Rubio represents Florida, which is perhaps the U.S. state most vulnerable to climate change.
Carly Fiorina: Liberals are to blame for California’s drought
CREDIT: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
“Despite the fact that California has suffered from droughts for millennia, liberal environmentalists have prevented the building of a single new reservoir or a single new water conveyance system over decades during a period in which California’s population has doubled,” Fiorina told Glen Beck in April. Blaming liberals for the drought is a popular conspiracy theory — but it has no factual basis.
Chris Christie: Someone should “take a bat out” on a 76-year-old widow
CREDIT: AP Photo/Mel Evans
Christie implored the media to attack State Senator Loretta Weinberg, a 76-year-old widow, because she collected a state pension.