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Donald Trump plays deck in a bid to stay; Republican presidential contender Donald Trump used a Pearl Harbor Day speech to call for a 'complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States'. He knows exactly what he is doing, writes Political Editor David Williamson, and he is desperate to stop rivals winning the publicity he craves...

Byline: David Williamson

ELECTION campaigns are times when US presidential candidates attempt to address the hopes and fears of millions - but contenders for the White House can also stir prejudice and exploit ignorance.

Reality television star and real estate mogul Donald Trump proved he has not lost the power to shock this week when he called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on".

Mr Trump hopes to win the nomination of the Republican party, which is traditionally seen as the sister party of the UK Conservatives. But the official spokesman for David Cameron described the comments as "divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong".

His Republican rivals also seemed taken aback by this policy announcement.

Jeb Bush, the brother and son of presidents, said he is "unhinged".

Mr Trump did not make his comments in a heated debate or a pugnacious interview. Instead, he issued his statement before making a speech on a World War II carrier on the 74th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks.

He knows exactly what he is doing. He is attempting to exploit fears of a threat to America at a time of mass refugee movements and present himself as the defender of the homeland. Accusations of demagoguery will not worry him a jot as the condemnation from moderate Republicans and liberal commentators rolls in.

Mr Trump's angry-man shtick was wearing thin. In the early days of his campaign he injected showbiz glamour into debates and ensured these sometimes turgid events had higher entertainment value than voters might have expected.

But in recent weeks, with the primary season racing closer, attention increasingly focused on the electoral chances of 44-year-old Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who is seen as a key threat to Mr Bush's presidential dreams, and Texan Senator Ted Cruz, a hero of many on the party's right. Now, Mr Trump is back in the limelight. The more his foes talk about the threat of him winning the White House, the easier it is for his potential supporters to imagine him in the Rose Garden or waving from Air Force One.

At this stage of the campaign, as the field of Republican hopefuls narrows, it is critical for Mr Trump that the race is not presented as a contest between the likes of Mr Rubio and Mr Cruz. He revels in notoriety and clearly considers obscurity a greater danger to his chances than infamy.

His critics will see this as the clearest evidence yet that he lacks key qualifications to lead a country.

Presidents and prime ministers have responded to Islamist atrocities by taking steps to ensure Muslims at home are not scapegoated, while sending out the message that their governments do not see terrorists as true representatives of the faith.

In contrast, Mr Trump has responded to recent killings in California by seeking to snatch headlines with his most incendiary statements yet. He has unveiled a policy which grows more gruesome the more you think about how it would be enforced.

Would border staff be required to identify a person's religion? How would they do this? Faith is a matter not of ethnicity or background but individual commitment, and would Government offi-

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 9, 2015
Words:563
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