With news breaking on Wednesday that John Kasich is dropping out of the Republican presidential race, it’s now official — Donald Trump has cleared the entire Republican field. Unless something unforeseen happens, Trump will be the 2016 GOP nominee for president.
More so than perhaps anyone else in the history of American politics, candidate Trump honed the art of the ad hominem attack. Despite recent efforts to portray himself as more presidential, Trump just can’t seem to stop himself from insulting his opponents.
While steamrolling the Republican field, Trump largely avoided engaging other candidates on the issues. Instead, he defined them in a negative way by hammering away on their unflattering traits — in some cases, using the same line of attack over, and over, and over again.
Here’s a look at some of the most memorable insults Trump deployed since announcing his candidacy last June.
In the wake of Kasich going on an eating tour of New York, Trump hammered him for eating in a “disgusting” manner.
I think Kasich is enjoying the Bronx pic.twitter.com/WXOBhO84my
— Jennifer Fermino (@jfermino) April 7, 2016
“Did you see him? He has a news conference, all the time when he’s eating. I have never seen a human being eat in such a disgusting fashion,” Trump said during a Rhode Island rally last month. “This guy takes a pancake and he’s shoving it in his mouth. It’s disgusting… Do you want that for your president? I don’t think so.”
Since the bromance between Cruz and Trump fell apart early this year, Trump has repeatedly characterized Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted” — a reference, in part, to the Cruz campaign spreading false rumors that Ben Carson had dropped out of the race, and making a misleading attack on Marco Rubio’s religious beliefs.
Wow, just announced that Lyin' Ted and Kasich are going to collude in order to keep me from getting the Republican nomination. DESPERATION!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 25, 2016
Lyin' Ted Cruz consistently said that he will, and must, win Indiana. If he doesn't he should drop out of the race-stop wasting time & money
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2016
Trump repeatedly called Marco Rubio “Little Marco.” While Rubio interpreted Trump’s insult as a reference to his anatomy, on social media, Trump mainly focused on casting aspersions upon Rubio’s record as a senator.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 28, 2016
Trump had previously tried out the “lightweight” line against Bobby Jindal, who never really gained traction before ending his campaign last November.
The case of Jeb Bush is perhaps the most notorious example of a once-promising candidate being derailed in part thanks to one of Trump’s labels. Late last summer, Trump first described him as “a very low-energy kind of guy.” Suffice it to say the label was something Jeb struggled to overcome right up until he ended his campaign in February.
Hillary Clinton doesn't have the strength or stamina to be president. Jeb Bush is a low energy individual, but Hillary is not much better!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2016
Low energy Jeb Bush just endorsed a man he truly hates, Lyin’ Ted Cruz. Honestly, I can’t blame Jeb in that I drove him into oblivion!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2016
Before she briefly became Cruz’s running mate, Fiorina was a candidate herself. In fact, for a short time late last summer, Fiorina was polling near the top of the Republican field. What did Trump do to bring her down? Attack her looks.
From a September USA Today report:
A newly published Rolling Stone article shows GOP front-runner Donald Trump mocking fellow candidate Carly Fiorina’s looks when he sees her on TV.
When the anchor throws to Carly Fiorina for her reaction to Trump’s momentum, Trump’s expression sours in schoolboy disgust as the camera bores in on Fiorina. ‘Look at that face!’ he cries. ‘Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!’
Like Fiorina, Carson enjoyed a brief stretch near the top of the Republican polls. Though news broke Wednesday that Carson will actually head up Trump’s vice president selection committee, Trump didn’t always hold the retired neurosurgeon in such high esteem.
From a November Talking Points Memo report:
While discussing his belief that Ben Carson’s “pathological temper” from his youth is not curable, Donald Trump on Thursday compared Carson’s temper to child molesting…
“You know, when he says he went after his mother and wanted to hit her in the head with a hammer, that bothers me. I mean, that’s pretty bad,” Trump said on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront,” adding that Carson described his temper as “pathological” in his book.
“I’m not saying anything other than pathological is a very serious disease. And he said he’s pathological, somebody said he has pathological disease,” Trump said.
“It’s in the book that he’s got a pathological temper,” Trump continued. “That’s a big problem because you don’t cure that.”
Trump then offered the example of a child molester.
“You don’t cure these people. You don’t cure a child molester. There’s no cure for it. Pathological, there’s no cure for that,” he said.
After the Kentucky senator attributed Trump’s early rise in the polls to society’s “temporary sort of loss of sanity,” Trump hit back — hard.
I truly understood the appeal of Ron Paul, but his son, @RandPaul, didn't get the right gene.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 12, 2015
Shortly after he announced his candidacy last June, Trump held a rally in the South Carolina senator’s home state. He used the occasion to call Graham an “idiot,” and then gave out his private cell phone number.
Trump has repeatedly taken credit for driving the South Carolina senator out of the race.
Failed presidential candidate Lindsey Graham should respect me. I destroyed his run, brought him from 7% to 0% when he got out. Now nasty!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 7, 2016
After Graham left the race, he campaigned for Jeb Bush. Addressing Graham’s support for Bush during one of his rallies, Trump again unloaded.
“This guy Lindsey Graham, he’s one of the dumbest human beings I have ever seen, “ Trump said at a rally. “Lindsey Graham is a disgrace, and I think you have one of the most worst representatives for the state.”
The former Texas governor once said running for president “is not an IQ test.” After Trump announced his candidacy, Perry released a statement blasting the millionaire, describing his message as “a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense.”
Trump wasted little time before responding with insults about Perry’s intelligence.
.@GovernorPerry just gave a pollster quote on me. He doesn't understand what the word demagoguery means.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2015
.@GovernorPerry failed on the border. He should be forced to take an IQ test before being allowed to enter the GOP debate.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2015
Trump’s insults clearly resonated with the Republican electorate. But if the presumptive GOP presidential nominee wants to win support from the establishment Republicans he’s been denigrating for almost a year, he might have to tone things down. During a radio interview on Wednesday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said she’s open to possibly supporting Trump during the general election campaign, but won’t do so unless he starts acting more presidential and stops with the “gratuitous personal insults.”
Late last month, Politico reported that Trump is resisting his handlers’ efforts to get him to tone down his rhetoric. During his victory speech Tuesday night, Trump had kind words for the freshly vanquished Cruz, who he called a “wacko” just hours earlier. Then, on Wednesday, Trump tweeted the insult we’re sure to hear a lot of between now and November.
I would rather run against Crooked Hillary Clinton than Bernie Sanders and that will happen because the books are cooked against Bernie!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2016