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As Trump Starts To Fundraise, GOP Contenders Hope To Steal The Spotlight


So that's how Ted Cruz is trying to stand out in the crowded GOP field. And now NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro is here to talk about how some of the others are working to differentiate themselves. Hey there, Domenico.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Thank you. Good to be with you.

CORNISH: So I should say how some of the others are trying to distinguish themselves from Donald Trump (laughter) 'cause he still leads in the polls. And I want to start there because he's making some new moves.

MONTANARO: He is. He reversed himself over the weekend that he wouldn't take any campaign donations. He'd said before, you know, I'm really rich; I don't need anybody to give me money. And now he went to a super PAC fundraiser where he actually raised more money there than he had in his entire first quarter of donations from individuals.

And we're also, though, still seeing some pushback against Trump in some of the early states - Virginia, North Carolina considering measures to keep Trump off the ballot - really aimed at him by trying to make candidates sign a loyalty oath, something that we'll find out about next month whether or not they actually go through with that.

CORNISH: I want to talk a little bit about policy because Donald Trump's conversation that he started about immigration is still reverberating with the other candidates, right?

MONTANARO: That's right. Last week, Donald Trump came out with a hard-line immigration proposal that has really tripped up a lot of Republican candidates in particular when it comes to what's known as birthright citizenship, something enshrined in the 14th Amendment in the Constitution which says that if you're born in the United States, you're granted U.S. citizenship automatically. And that's something that Scott Walker, in particular, had trouble with because this week, we heard him say that he was in favor of repealing birthright citizenship. Then he said he had no opinion on it, and then he finally said this week on Sunday that he was against it.

CORNISH: Walker's not the only one. I know Jeb Bush, who has talked about immigration reform in the past, actually landed in some controversy about using the term anchor babies, which many people find offensive. And last week, he spent much of his time defending his use of that term. And then he had this to say yesterday during a visit to McAllen, Texas, near the Mexico border.


JEB BUSH: What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed where there's organized efforts. And frankly, it's more related to Asian people coming into our country, having children in that organized efforts, taking advantage of a noble concept with this birthright citizenship. I support the 14th Amendment. And by the way, I think we need to take a step back and chill out a little bit as it relates to the political correctness that somehow, you need to be scolded every time you say something.

MONTANARO: Well, and this is Jeb Bush, you know, talking about what he says is birth tourism, which about 36,000 women a year, mostly from China, coming to the United States to have children in the United States, you know? But this was a question posed to him that really had to do with whether or not Republicans could win over Hispanics given this use of the term anchor babies which is seen as derogatory within the Hispanic community.

And - but this is the risk for Jeb Bush when he goes after someone like Donald Trump. He's trying to consolidate that anti-Trump vote and make it a two-man race. But when he does that, Trump is going to fight back harder. We saw him do this to him on Twitter, where he went after him, saying, now Bush is offending Asians. So this is a big test for Jeb Bush and whether or not he can steal the spotlight back from someone like Donald Trump. And so far, none of the candidates have been able to do that.

CORNISH: That's NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro. Thanks so much for coming in.

MONTANARO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.