Against all expectations, bombastic billionaire and Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, lost the Iowa Caucus, the first primary votes in America’s 2016 general elections, Monday, February 1.
It was a humiliating defeat for Mr. Trump who announced his candidacy for President of the United States last June 16, and was widely expected to win, being a clear leader in all the polls conducted before the primaries, including poll results released 24 hours before Iowans cast their votes.
Iconoclastic Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, supported by a wave of extreme right wing evangelical Christians, led the assault that crumbled Donald Trump’s presumed invisibility. Senator Cruz won by 27.7 per cent of caucus votes, while Mr. Trump had 24.3 per cent and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida came third with 23.1 per cent of the votes.
Mr. Cruz’s victory was more than a personal victory. Aside from surviving the nasty flames thrown at him by Mr. Trump who characterised him as unelectable because we was born in Canada, the governor of Iowa, Terry E. Branstad, and many Republican leaders in Washington strongly cautioned against voting for him because they said he was too much of an extremist that could hurt the party’s chances in the general elections in November.
The Democratic Challenge
On the Democratic Party end of the divide, the results were a virtual tie between former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and Senator Bernie Sanders of the State of Vermont. With 99 per cent votes count, Mrs. Clinton had 49.9 per cent of the votes to 49.6 per cent of the votes for Senator Sanders. Former Maryland State governor, Martin O’Malley returned a dismal showing by winning 0.6 per cent of the total votes and promptly announced his withdrawal from the presidential race.
Bursting the Trump Bubble
The billionaire real estate developer, whose properties include hotels, high rise apartment buildings, golf courses and casinos, has been a fixture in American politics for decades but has never held elective or appointive office. He has however haboured presidential ambition for years, his first attempt at a presidential race was in 2000 when he contested for primary in California on the platform of the little-known Reform Party.
Mr. Trump’s image grew exponentially when he began hosting The Apprentice, a nationally televised reality show, in 2003. He is widely rumoured to have by-passed the 2008 presidential race in favour of his television programme as American electoral law disallows media personalities from contesting political office.
Mr Trump stepped up his political visibility after Barack Obama won that election, largely as a belligerent critic of Mr Obama’s person and life story. He became known as a ‘birther’, the nickname given to conspiracy theorists who allege that Mr Obama, the first black president of the United States, was not born in Hawaii as his birth certificate shows but in Kenya, his father home country. In a well-publicized display of his seeming status as a power broker, Mr. Trump endorsed Mitt Romney, Republican presidential candidate in the 2012 election, on national television only to call him names after he lost to Mr Obama.
Mr Trump’s campaign has been famous for his incendiary remarks against Hispanics, Muslims and other minorities, remarks that have earned him condemnation and ire of associates at home and abroad. After he called Mexican immigrants criminals, Hispanic television networks stopped showing his Miss Universe pageant. After he called for Muslims to be banned from entering the United States, his business partners in the UAE took his name off the Dubai golf course associated with him.
He has made equally uncomplimentary remarks against his competitors for the Republican nomination, remarks that earned him the support of far right members of his party but apparently, as the result of the Iowa Caucus now show, offended the sensibility of moderate Republicans.
Mr. Trump has always been vocally disdainful, even hateful, toward black people long before he launched his presidential campaign. In 1973, his family’s business, Trump Management, was sued by the Justice Department for discriminating against African-American renters. In 1989, he took out an advert calling for the death penalty against African-American teenage suspects in a rape case. The teenagers were later exonerated.