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Some Of Donald Trump's Strongest Defenders Are Now Criticizing Him

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 31/03/2016 Mollie Reilly
RELDBMGF10000352041 © Mario Anzuoni / Reuters RELDBMGF10000352041

Several of Donald Trump's most vocal defenders are criticizing the GOP front-runner as his pattern of sexism becomes undeniably clear. 

The tide began to shift last week, after Trump threatened to "spill the beans" on Ted Cruz's wife, Heidi, and later retweeted a meme comparing Heidi Cruz's appearance to his wife, Melania, who is a former model. 

Then, in a Monday interview, Trump claimed his repeated disparaging comments about women -- often about their appearance -- were jokes. The next day, Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was charged with allegedly assaulting reporter Michelle Fields, prompting Trump to engage in some textbook victim-blaming. And on Wednesday, he floated "punishment" for women who have abortions. (He quickly backtracked on the remarks, suggesting doctors should be punished instead.) 

It's become too much for some of Trump's staunchest allies. 

Stephanie Cegielski, a former spokeswoman for a pro-Trump super PAC, published a scathing essay this week on xoJane, explaining why she had soured on the candidate. According to Cegielski, who worked for the Make America Great Again PAC, Trump's candidacy was intended as a political protest, but spun out of hand as his infamous ego got in the way. 

"He certainly was never prepared or equipped to go all the way to the White House, but his ego has now taken over the driver's seat, and nothing else matters," Cegielski wrote. "The Donald does not fail. The Donald does not have any weakness. The Donald is his own biggest enemy." 

Ultra-conservative pundit Ann Coulter, meanwhile, has gone out of her way to defendTrumpcountlesstimes. But it appears even her support has its limits. Appearing on a podcast hosted by Breitbart's Milo Yiannopoulos, Coulter said Trump had crossed the line with his tweets about Heidi Cruz. 

"Our candidate is mental," Coulter said. "Do you realize our candidate is mental? It's like constantly having to bail out your sixteen-year-old son from prison."  

(However, as she wrote in a column Wednesday, Coulter still believes Trump is the GOP's only hope for securing the White House.) 

Newt Gingrich, who previously praised the business mogul as an "ally to conservatism," also criticized Trump for going after Cruz's wife, calling the Twitter spat "utterly stupid" and a "wake-up call" for the candidate.

"It has frankly weakened everything that Trump ought to be strengthening," Gingrich told Fox News' Sean Hannity. "It sent a signal to women that is negative at a time when his numbers with the women are already bad. It sent a signal of instability to people who are beginning to say, 'OK, maybe I've gotta get used to it, maybe I've gotta rely on him, maybe he could be presidential.'"

Former WWE CEO Linda McMahon, a longtime friend and business partner of Trump's, lambasted his campaign's sexist rhetoric in an interview with Katie Couric.

“He’s not helping, certainly, to put women in the best light," she said. "Maybe he regrets [his remarks], maybe he doesn’t. I realize he punches hard when he punches back, but that’s just over the top. I wish that no candidate would make those comments."

And after his abortion remarks Wednesday, Trump even earned ire from some anti-abortion groups.

"No pro-lifer would ever want to punish a woman who has chosen abortion," said March for Life executive Jeanne Mancini. "This is against the very nature of what we are about. We invite a woman who has gone down this route to consider paths to healing, not punishment.”

Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser said "punishment is solely for the abortionist who profits" from performing the procedure.

"We have never advocated, in any context, for the punishment of women who undergo abortion," she added. 

As HuffPost Pollster noted Wednesday, his support could be waning elsewhere: Trump's net favorables are down by 14 percent over the last two months.

Meanwhile, other conservatives, who are not Trump fans, are also speaking out against him. 

A group of 16 female reporters, many from conservative media outlets, called on the candidate to fire Lewandowski for his "inexcusable" behavior.

And in a National Review column about Coulter, Gingrich and Cegielski, Jim Geraghty berated his fellow conservatives for just now turning on Trump.

"He didn’t abruptly become reckless, obnoxious, ill-informed, erratic, hot-tempered, pathologically dishonest, narcissistic, crude and catastrophically unqualified for the presidency overnight," he wrote. "He’s always been that guy, and you denied it and ignored it and hand-waved it away and made excuses every step of the way because you were convinced that you were so much smarter than the rest of us." 

Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S. 

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