CHARLOTTE, N.C. - On a night when Donald Trump may take major steps toward securing the Republican presidential nomination the Republican Party, some voters are still trying to figure out how to deal with him and a campaign strategy that might be called "the art of the insult."
Trump’s rhetoric and caustic personal attacks on opponents and enemies continues to escalate.
He has called opponent Marco Rubio a "choke artist," accused him of “putting on makeup with a trowel" and called popular South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley an embarrassment to the state. All the while his campaign has trended higher as some voters admit they like what they see and hear in Trump.
“Someone’s finally saying ‘screw the political correctness game’ and all that," said voter Steven Swaney.
Doug Holley said he supports Trump because "he’s up front about what he says."
The personal attacks have become so successful for Trump that his opponents are being equally ugly.
"Donald Trump likes to sue people," Rubio said recently, “he should sue whoever did that to his face.”
For some voters, though, the tenor of the campaign, led by Trump’s trash talking is taking a toll.
“I’m disappointed. My husband is disappointed,” said Melissa King.
Keenya Brown said she first thought Trump’s antics were a joke but is now disconcerted that they’re winning him support.
“I think people voting for him and rooting for him are still thinking this is “Celebrity Apprentice” and it’s not. This is the real world. He’s representing real people and real lives," she said.
Political expert Michael Bitzer said Trump has clearly tapped into voter anger and frustration. He wonders, though, what the political cost will be to the mainstream Republican Party.
"It’s one thing to attack somebody on political differences and ideological perspectives. But when you get into the base name calling and really the kind of almost kindergarten attitude that we’re seeing thrown about, it really raises a question: Is this a viable party,” Bitzer said.
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