Fabiola Santiago

A week of Trump: Bad grammar. Bad temper. Bad judge of voters.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016. AP

There’s no telling where Donald Trump’s alleged fraudulent voters will cast their ballots — and 10 times each!

But predicting a “rigged” election is one of the red herrings Trump threw out as he campaigned through the swing states of Ohio, Virginia and Florida on a week when top Republican military leaders publicly voiced concern about putting nuclear codes in the hands of a presidential candidate whose behavior is increasingly erratic and bombastic in both extraordinary and silly ways.

You’d think that after getting into trouble for calling on the Russians to spy on the former secretary of state while on a campaign stop in Miami, Trump would reassess, polish a little, and act just a tad presidential.

Instead, he started the week blaming the media for his shortcomings. He lashed out at The New York Times: “They don’t write good. They have people over there, like Maggie Haberman and others, they don’t — they don’t write good. They don’t know how to write good.”

There wasn’t even time for a good laugh at his bad grammar, to savor a humorous moment reminiscent of when George W. Bush’s unconventional use of language became a Wikipedia entry: Bushisms.

Without missing a beat, Trump stepped up the nasty, delivering another really crazy week — not a problem for his adoring Florida fans who cheered and echoed him, war veterans included, despite Trump’s unrelenting attacks on the parents of one of their own, a Muslim-American hero who died in Iraq.

In Virginia, he kicked out of a rally a crying baby and his mother. In Daytona Beach, he again brought up a disabled reporter Trump made fun of, taunting his crowd — “I’m not doing it!” — as if they had been begging him to again mimic the man’s hand movements.

Despicable behavior, but there standing next to him were his buddies, Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, who cast Trump as a loving family man who fights for us. Before the GOP ruling brass and 8,000 supporters Trump said to thunderous applause: “We’ve got to stop being the stupid country run by very stupid people.”

That certainly will become the rallying cry if American voters are foolish enough to elect Trump, who constantly confirms that there’s no saving grace to his candidacy. But Trump’s campaign is in trouble. You wouldn’t know it by the way Florida GOP leaders are standing by Trump, but prominent Republicans are abandoning ship and his poll numbers are taking a dive. Moderate, respected newspapers are editorializing against his candidacy. The Houston Chronicle, which backed Mitt Romney in 2012, endorsed Hillary Clinton. The Charlotte Observer asked for Trump to step down and let the Republican National Committee nominate a “more capable” candidate.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Trump revealed so many cracks in his armor that more alarm bells went off. He talked about voter fraud, a foreshadowing to this “rigged” election rant Wednesday in Florida.

“I don’t like what’s going on with voter ID,” Trump said. “Well, I think it’s ridiculous. I mean the voter-ID situation has turned out to be a very unfair development. We may have people vote 10 times. It’s inconceivable that you don’t have to show identification to vote or that the identification doesn’t have to be somewhat foolproof ... I don’t want to jump the gun. I don’t want to talk about that. I’m just saying that I wouldn’t be surprised if the election ... there’s a lot of dirty pool played at the election, meaning the election is rigged. I would not be surprised. The voter ID, they’re fighting as hard as you can fight so that that they don’t have to show voter ID. So, what’s the purpose of that? How many times is a person going to vote during the day?”

Unfounded fear of rampant voter fraud is right up Florida’s ultra-conservative alley.

State legislators have been caught publicly confusing the immigration status of Puerto Ricans, who are U.S. citizens, saying they don’t have the right to representation or vote. Shortly after taking office, Scott’s administration carried out voter purges aimed at getting rid of minorities more likely to vote Democrat. The purges were so obviously racially and ethnically motivated that even Republican elections officials spoke out against them.

Floriduh is the perfect setting to spin Trumpian fiction, the kind that starts with a sliver of a fact, then grows into a simplistic but giant smokescreen to hide damning truths and real issues.

Here, he has friends like Bondi in high places. The attorney general declined to pursue complaints against Trump for bilking consumers out of thousands of dollars for real estate expertise they never got from Trump Institute and Trump University. No such luck elsewhere. The federal judge Trump disparaged for being of Mexican heritage ruled Tuesday that a San Diego trial against Trump on fraud charges brought by former Trump University students will proceed. So will the one in New York pursued by that state’s attorney general.

Those legal troubles — and the tax returns Trump refuses to release like every other presidential candidate — are the real issues Trump is avoiding.

Only question in Florida is how long the powers-that-be are able to help prop up the Trump smokescreen.

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