Twitter War: Trump vs. other GOP candidates

In this June 30, 2015, photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves as he arrives at a house party in Bedford, N.H. Hispanic leaders are warning of harm to Republican White House hopes unless the party?s presidential contenders do more to condemn Trump, who?s refusing to apologize for calling Mexican immigrants rapists and drug dealers. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Donald Trump only needs 140 characters to launch grenades at his fellow Republican Presidential candidates.

Candidates have been denouncing Trump’s campaign announcement remarks, during which he said Mexican immigrants were bringing crime and drugs to the U.S.. “When Mexico sends there people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems…” Trump said.

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Rick Perry are among the candidates who have publicly condemned Trump’s remarks.

As Mediaite reported, George Pataki was the first candidate to denounce Trump.

In a tweet on July 1st Pataki said he rejected Trump’s comments and asked for the other GOP candidates to join him.

Dr. John Hendricks, a professor at Stephen F. Austin State University and co-author of Presidential Campaigning and Social Media called the move by Pataki “bold and a bit clever.”

“He drew attention specifically to the leading candidates about Trump’s comments and essentially forced them to take a side on the issue,” Hendricks explained.

Pataki continued urging others to come forward, and followed up with tweets thanking the other candidates for standing up to Trump. He even launched a petition to denounce Trump’s remarks.

“We need a leader in the White House that all Americans can respect, not just some,” the petition reads.

Trump shared his distaste for Pataki hours after Pataki's original tweet.

"Trump appears to revel in the pettiness and he seems to like to start social media fights and never misses an opportunity to respond to any criticism that is leveled against him whether it’s a policy issue or his hair," Hendricks said.

As the co-author of Twitter Power 3.0, Dave Taylor, explained candidates have options when they are attacked on Twitter. "You could either go right to their level, or say this is not how I choose to interact and this is not a meaningful discussion," Taylor said.

Pataki went right to Trump's level, tweeting out a 1999 transcript from Larry King Live in which Trump called Pataki "a terrific governor and a great guy."

Trump’s next opportunity to respond to criticism came on July 2nd, when Rick Perry embraced Pataki’s call to action and denounced Trump during an interview on “Your World.”

“I don’t think he’s reflecting the Republican Party with his statements about Mexicans, I think that was a huge error on his part, number one, it’s wrong” Perry said.

"Nobody knows that border better than I do, nobody has stepped into the fray on that border the way I have to defend and secure that border,” Perry added.

Though Trump tweeted on July 3rd that liked Rick Perry despite his failure to secure the boarder, he offered sharper criticism on July 5th and even took a jab at Perry’s choice in eye wear.

“It’s a little bit like a playground bully…” explained Taylor.

Marco Rubio was the next kid the bully singled out.

Trump tweeted directly to Rubio’s account demanding to know what Rubio had to say about the murder of Kathryn Steinle. Steinle was shot and killed by a man who Immigration and Customs enforcement had deported several times, according to reports.

Trump has tweeted about Steinle's death multiple times, saying that it highlights the U.S.’s need for a more secure boarder.

As Mediaite reported, Rubio denounced Trump’s actions in a statement on July 3rd.

“Our next president needs to be someone who brings Americans together – not someone who continues to divide,” Rubio wrote.

“Our broken immigration system is something that needs to be solved, and comments like this move us further from – not closer to – a solution,” Rubio wrote.

Rubio was one of two candidates who stayed with former Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney while campaigning in New Hampshire over the holiday weekend.

Romney commented on Trump’s remarks on Saturday. Saying he thought Trump’s comments hurt the Republican Party, Romney called Trump’s statement “a severe error,” on CNN.

While Trump did not criticize Romney for his stance on immigration policy, he still did take the time to make fun of the former candidate.

Republican front runner Jeb Bush also spoke up on Saturday, exposing himself to Trump's twitter wrath.

As the New York Times reported, Bush, whose wife is Mexican and children are biracial, said he was personally offended by Trump’s remarks and called them “extraordinarily ugly.”

“He’s doing this to inflame and to insight and to draw attention, which seems to be his organizing principal of his campaign and it doesn’t represent the Republican Party or its values,” Bush in an interview on CBS.

Trump waited until Sunday to ridicule Bush's stance on immigration. Bush is the front-runner in the race, according to the most recent national poll. He leads Trump by seven percentage points.

Sharing an interview in which Bush said he believes immigration in some cases is not a felony but an act of love, Trump stated that “Jeb doesn’t see & can’t solve the problems.”

One GOP candidate has seen some love from Trump’s Twitter account, Ted Cruz. Cruz has supported Trump’s remarks.

“When it comes to Donald Trump, I like Donald Trump, he’s bold, he’s brash and I get that is seems that the favorite sport of the Washington Media is to encourage some Republicans to attack other Republicans. I ain’t going to do it. I’m not interested in Republican on Republican violence,” Cruz said.

“I salute Donald Trump for focusing on the need to address illegal immigration,” Cruz continued.

Trump has tweeted several thank yous to Cruz for defending him.

When he isn’t calling out other candidates, Trump is quoting tweets from supporters, something Taylor describes as “social proof.”

“Basically what he’s doing is saying ‘look there’s a non-stop stream of people that are on my side',” Taylor explained.

Among the quoted tweets coming out of Trump’s account are more insults of other candidates not necessarily rooted in policy.

One such insult was reportedly tweeted and deleted, according to MSNBC. The tweet quoted Twitter use @RobHeilbron and said “#JebBush has to like the Mexican illegals because of his wife.”

MSNBC reported that the campaign said the tweet had not been sent by Trump and that it was sent "mistakenly."

“Deleting tweets in naïve, nothing’s ever really deleted on the internet,” Taylor explained.

Hendricks said that Trump's team "is lacking in political social media savvy."

"Trump’s blunt and brutal comments are not necessarily a productive, and definitely not a diplomatic, approach to handling sensitive and important issues on the nation’s behalf," Hendricks said.

According to Hendricks, “Twitter and Facebook can have an incredible impact on a candidate’s campaign.”

Taylor advised that if Trump has hired someone to produce the content on Twitter "he better take a real close look at what they’re trying to accomplish and if this is the real clear path to that goal."

“Trump may see a modest spike in the polls with each social media temper tantrum, but with every ineffective tweet he will eventually alienate more voters than he gains,” Hendricks said.

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