While Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump currently leads the crowded field of contenders, signs of weakness has started to crack through the seemingly invincible armor that defined his campaign this summer. With falling outs with vendors in the first-in-the-nation Iowa, struggles to appear on primary ballots elsewhere, and getting booed while displaying his usual bullying tactic, there are clear indications The Donald’s slip in the polls are more than just a temporary dip.
In Illinois, reports are that the billionaire businessman is suffering from a weak grassroots operation in Illinois, one of the states showing strong support for the candidate, and may not make the ballot for the March 15, 2016, primary. This could pose as a problem for the real estate mogul who could find himself on the outside looking in for some primary state with similar ballot access laws as Illinois.
“I don’t know that Trump gets on the Illinois ballot,” said former Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady. “Absent a significant organization, you’re just not going to get it done in this state.”
Illinois Republican Chairman Tim Schneider was similarly pessimistic about Trump’s chances to run in the Prairie State.
“I can’t tell you we know right now who to contact if someone wants to be a Trump delegate,” Schneider said. “I’m not sure the Trump campaign understands the complexity of having delegates in every congressional district.”
In Illinois, candidates must circulate petitions to have valid voters sign for each specific congressional district. The required number of signatures is dependent on the number of voters in a previous election. Candidates can begin circulating petitions next week and have until January to turn them into the state election offices in January.
Delegates are the norm when it comes to finding people willing to circulate petitions for a candidate. Typically, three or four are needed for each congressional district in Illinois.
Brady told Politico that Trump had asked all the “usual suspects” to be his delegates.
“They all turned him down.”
Next door, in Iowa, the current GOP frontrunner is running into problems of a public relations standpoint. His campaign bus is up for sale in state that will kick off the primary elections.
A party bus, ones typically used for campaigns during ground campaigns, with Trump’s name plastered on the side appeared on Craig’s List for sale only to be disappear a short time later. However, after reaching out to the bus’ owner, the bus is still for sale for $15,000. The owner and mechanic of the bus Trump has used during his campaign confirmed to The Des Moines Register that they were selling the bus.
“As far as I know it’s still up for sale,” said Mark Gearhart, the bus’s mechanic. “I know they took it off of Craig’s List because it was ruffling some feathers — frankly I don’t care — but it’s my partner’s bus and he wants to sell it, so we’re going to sell it.”
Gearhart would not say who was angered by the ad, but alluded to a person’s imagination to easily determine the culprit.
Trump’s Iowa campaign office did not return calls to news outlets seeking comment.
Bus owner Steve Drake said the campaign had used the bus for months but recently abandoned it in a change of strategy. The plan is to sell the bus quickly by capitalizing on Trump’s high name ID.
“I figured if I could sell it while it’s hot, while Donald’s hot, I would try to do that,” Drake explained.
These came just days after he was booed by a conservative organization for attacking Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been seeing some traction in the polls after the most recent debate.
“You have this clown, Marco Rubio, I’ve been so nice to him,” Trump said as boos began filling the conference room at the Values Voters summit in Washington. “I’ve been so nice and then – no, but he’s in favor of immigration and he has been, he has been, it was the ‘Gang of 8’ and you remember the ‘Gang of 8,’ it was terrible.”
Rubio has been a consistent target of Trump’s in recent days as the businessman keeps hitting the senator’s voting record while he has been out campaigning for the presidency.
Meanwhile, polls are showing Trump’s seemingly insurmountable lead is not longer strong. Trend lines of the major polling organizations show the frontrunner is close to losing his top status to another anti-establishment candidate, Ben Carson. Carly Fiorina is also knocking on Trump’s door since her breakthrough performance during the September 16 debate. Also making strong gains were the more established Republicans Jeb Bush and Rubio.
Throughout the weeks after the debate, Trump has touted his continued lead in the polls, ignoring the statistical tie between him and Carson in the latest NBC poll.