The first, much-anticipated question for Trump from Megyn Kelly was about the increasingly weird controversy over his off-the-record meeting with The New York Times editorial board, in which he reportedly distanced himself from some of his more dangerous rhetoric on immigration. Jumping on Kelly’s cue, both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz reiterated their calls for Trump to release the tape the Times made of the conversation.
As Glenn Greenwald wrote earlier this week, the only real scandal here is that the Times agreed to discuss Trump’s secret policy intentions off-the-record in the first place, then violated that journalistic trust by talking about them. But when Republicans bring this up, they’re insinuating something very different: that Trump is not actually as virulently xenophobic as he pretends to be on television.
The hope seems to be that such a betrayal would lead voters to sour on Trump. But it says something about the depths of the GOP’s delusions that it thinks attacking Trump for being insufficiently racially divisive is the key to breaking his support.