Donald Trump on the Defensive / by marilyn salenger

Donald Trump on the defensive is something we're not used to seeing. This past week has shown us how the Republican presidential front runner handles being on the other side of the attack mode and it was not a pretty picture.

Trump is no dummy. But last night's Republican debate showed a man and his shoot from the hip form of politics being vigorously challenged by Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich and the moderators. It became increasing hard to tell Trump fact from Trump fiction as the debate eroded into a verbal brawl. He appeared to scramble to defend everything from the Trump University fiasco to hiring foreign workers rather than local and his donations to Democrats. Donald Trump continued resortingt to answers twisted into a skewed form of sometimes crude response and more attacks. It was as if he couldn't help himself. A chink in his armor began to show. When your campaign strategy focuses on personality more than substance, it had to happen at some point.

March 3rd was not a good day for the Trump campaign. Former 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney began the afternoon speaking to a conservative audience and opening the public doors to a vehement attack on Donald Trump calling him a "phoney and a fraud". The visual and temperamental contrast between the two men was hard to miss, as were Romney's words about Trump. "He's playing members of the American public for suckers". And he continued making his thoughts clear. " He has neither the temperament nor the judgement to be President."

While we can ask where was Mitt Romney months ago with his remarks, the fact remains that they were made yesterday and were not only more scathing than anything heard in the debate, they were more strategic. He publicly encouraged an open convention. Surprising many he said, "Given the current delegate selection process, this means that I would vote for Marco Rubio in Florida, John Kasich in Ohio and for Ted Cruz or whichever one of the other two contenders has the best chance of beating Mr. Trump in a given state."

Donald Trump responded citing Romney's 2012 request for an endorsement saying "He was begging for my endorsement. I could have said, Mitt, drop to your knees - he would have dropped to his knees."

But Republican leaders kept piling on.

Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, expressed concerns about "Mr.Trump's uninformed and indeed dangerous statements on national security issues."

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Romney's former running mate, also used March 3rd to publicly respond to what could only be called a threat made by Donald Trump in his Super Tuesday victory remarks. Trump had said that Ryan would "pay a big price" if he doesn't get along with him. Yesterday, without using Trump's name, Ryan told reporters that he “laughed out loud” after hearing those remarks. He appeared far from intimidated and continued, "I was sitting in my office watching it live and I just laughed out loud. I think sometimes reality's stranger than fiction around here these days,"

March 3, 2016 was not just another day in Republican politics.