Fed-up and angry supporters let Trump defy political gravity

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Donald Trump: His Most Outrageous Moments...So Far

NORWOOD, Mass. (AP) -- Donald Trump insults and exaggerates.

He dismisses the need for public policy ideas, gets confused about world affairs and sometimes says things that flat out aren't true.

And the cheers from his supporters only grow louder.

READ MORE: 6 'Trumpisms' that would spell trouble for anyone but Trump

By the standard that voters typically use to judge presidential candidates, Trump probably should not have survived his first day in the 2016 race.

Yet as the summer draws to a close and the initial votes in the nominating calendar appear on the horizon, Trump has established himself as the Republican front-runner.

Watch more below:

11 Things Donald Trump Has 100% Actually Said

Listen to these voters:

-- "It's totally refreshing. He's not politically correct. He has a backbone and he cannot be bought," said Leigh Ann Crouse, 55, of Dubuque, Iowa.

-- "This country needs a businessman just like him to put us back on track, to make us stop being the laughing stock of this world," said Ken Brand, 56, of Derry, New Hampshire.

-- "He says everything that I would like to say, but I'm afraid to say. What comes out of his mouth is not what he thinks I want to hear," said Janet Boyden, 67, of Chester, Massachusetts.

51 PHOTOS
The many faces of Donald Trump
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Fed-up and angry supporters let Trump defy political gravity
FORT WORTH, TX - FEBRUARY 26: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Fort Worth Convention Center on February 26, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. Trump is campaigning in Texas, days ahead of the Super Tuesday primary. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures as he speaks at a campaign rally Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in Florence, S.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Little Rock, Ark. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up a child he pulled from the crowd as he arrives to speak at a campaign rally in New Orleans, Friday, March 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
TOPSHOT - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures during a campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, February 19, 2016. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump gestures during the Republican Presidential Debate, hosted by CNN, at The Venetian Las Vegas on December 15, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. AFP PHOTO/ ROBYN BECK / AFP / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at Plymouth State University Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Plymouth, N.H. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Pastor Joshua Nink, right, prays for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, as wife, Melania, left, watches after a Sunday service at First Christian Church Sunday, Jan. 31, 2016, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, February 19, 2016. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump blows a kiss after speaking at his caucus night rally, Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in West Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Pensacola Bay Center in Pensacola, Fla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Snyder)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop before next months earliest in the nation presidential primary, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, in Windham,NH (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
RENO, NV - JANUARY 10: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at the Reno Event Center on January 10, 2016 in Reno, Nevada. Donald Trump continued to raise doubts Sunday about rival Ted Cruzs eligibility for the presidency, saying Republicans will risk losing a lawsuitand potentially the nations highest officeif they nominate Cruz as their candidate. (Photos by Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pops through a doorway as he arrives to address a gathering during a campaign stop at a Rotary Club luncheon in Manchester, N.H., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, Nov. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
MESA, AZ - DECEMBER 16: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to guest gathered during a campaign event at the International Air Response facility on December 16, 2015 in Mesa, Arizona. Trump is in Arizona the day after the Republican Presidential Debate hosted by CNN in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Republican Candidate Donald Trump arrives to speaks to the press with Rev. Darrell Scott(R), senior pastor of the New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights after meetings with prominent African American clerics at Trump Tower in New York November 30 ,2015. AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 23: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses supporters during a campaign rally at the Greater Columbus Convention Center on November 23, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. Trump spoke about immigration and Obamacare, among other topics, to around 14,000 supporters at the event. (Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images)
DORAL, FL - OCTOBER 23: Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump attends a campaigns rally In Florida at the Trump National Doral on October 23, 2015 in Doral, Florida. Trump leads most polls in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. (Photo by Johnny Louis/FilmMagic)
COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 23: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves a campaign event September 23, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Earlier today, Trump tweeted 'FoxNews has been treating me very unfairly & I have therefore decided that I won't be doing any more Fox shows for the foreseeable future.' (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump reacts during the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Simi Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 22: Donald Trump greets supporters, tourists and the curious after taping an interview with Anderson Cooper at a Trump owned building in mid-town Manhattan on July 22, 2015 in New York City. Trump, who is running for president on a Republican ticket, has come under intensifying criticism for his behavior on the campaign trail. The billionaire's most recent comments on Senator John McCain's war record in Vietnam have resulted in almost universal criticism from fellow candidates. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves for lunch after being summoned for jury duty in New York, Monday, Aug. 17, 2015. Trump was due to report for jury duty Monday in Manhattan. The front-runner said last week before a rally in New Hampshire that he would willingly take a break from the campaign trail to answer the summons. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, left, looks on as Sam Clovis, newly appointed national co-chairman of Trumps campaign, speaks during a news conference ahead of a rally at Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. President Barack Obama's top business ambassador dismissed Trump's call for a wall along the Mexico border, saying the U.S. is focused instead on expanding business with one of its biggest trade partners. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
BILOXI, MS - JANUARY 02: Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump pauses with supporters after speaking at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum on January 2, 2016 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Trump, who has strong support from Southern voters, spoke to thousands in the small Mississippi city on the Gulf of Mexico. Trump continues to split the GOP establishment with his populist and controversial views on immigration, muslims and some of his recent comments on women. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pulls his hair back to show that it is not a toupee while speaking during a rally at the TD Convention Center, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, in Greenville, S.C. Trump says his trademark hairdo is for real. He told 1,800 people in South Carolina Thursday: "It's my hair ... I swear." (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
Supporters reach to great Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump as he leaves a brief stop to speak to supporters and the media in Laredo, Texas, Thursday, July 23, 2015. Trump predicted Hispanics would love him, because as president he said he'd grab jobs back from overseas and give more opportunity to those who live in the U.S. legally. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump remarks about Texas Gov. Rick Perry's glasses at his South Carolina campaign rally in Bluffton, S.C., Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
LAREDO, TEXAS - JULY 23: Republican Presidential candidate and business mogul Donald Trump talks to the media at a press conference during his trip to the border on July 23, 2015 in Laredo, Texas. Trump's recent comments, calling some immigrants from Mexico as drug traffickers and rapists, have stirred up reactions on both sides of the aisle. Although fellow Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has denounced Trump's comments and his campaign in general, U.S. Senator from Texas Ted-Cruz has so far refused to bash his fellow Republican nominee. (Photo by Matthew Busch/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump responds to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's closing remarks during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 15: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump eats a pork chop on a stick and gives a thumbs up sign to fairgoers at the Iowa State Fair on August 15, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Presidential candidates are addressing attendees at the Iowa State Fair on the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox stage and touring the fairgrounds. The State Fair runs through August 23. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 06: Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump (R) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker participate in the first prime-time presidential debate hosted by FOX News and Facebook at the Quicken Loans Arena August 6, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The top-ten GOP candidates were selected to participate in the debate based on their rank in an average of the five most recent national political polls. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
OSKALOOSA, IA - JULY 25: Republican presidential hopeful businessman Donald Trump speaks to guests gathered for a rally on July 25, 2015 in Oskaloosa, Iowa. During his last visit to the state Trump sparked controversy when he said Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a former POW, was not a war hero. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump, speaks during the Values Voter Summit, held by the Family Research Council Action, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in Washington. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump addresses supporters at a campaign rally, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
TURNBURRY, SCOTLAND - JUNE 08: Donald Trump Visits Turnberry Golf Club, after its $10 Million refurbishment, on June 8, 2015 in Turnberry, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
DERRY, NH - AUGUST 19: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hugs an American flag as he takes the stage for a town hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire, August 19, 2015. (Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IOWA - AUGUST 15: Donald Trump at the Iowa State Fair on August 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The Iowa State Fair is one of the oldest and largest agricultural and industrial expositions in the United States. The annual fair, the largest event in Iowa, attracts over a million visitors each year. The fair runs through August 23. After a brief walk around its time for Mr Trump to board his club cart again and leave the fair. (Photos by Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
AYR, SCOTLAND - JULY 30: Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump visits his Scottish golf course Turnberry on July 30, 2015 in Ayr, Scotland. Donald Trump answered questions from the media at a press conference. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
TURNBURRY, SCOTLAND - JUNE 08: Donald Trump visits Turnberry Golf Club, after its $10 Million refurbishment on June 8, 2015 in Turnberry, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 U.S. presidential candidate, gestures while speaking during The Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, July 18, 2015. The sponsor, The FAMiLY LEADER, is a 'pro-family, pro-marriage, pro-life organization which champions the principle that God is the ultimate leader of the family.' Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 16: Donald Trump arrives at NBCUniversal's 2015 Winter TCA Tour - Day 2 at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa on January 16, 2015 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)
Donald Trump, president and chief executive officer of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, pauses while speaking during a news conference at Trump Towers in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. 'I have signed the pledge,' he said, referring to a document stating that he would not run as an independent candidate in the event that he does not win the Republican nomination. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
US tycoon Donald Trump arrives to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington, on February 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
EDISON, NJ - AUGUST 30: A golf fan takes a 'selfie' with presidential candidate Donald Trump during the final round of The Barclays at Plainfield Country Club on August 30, 2015 in Edison, New Jersey. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND - JULY 10: Donald Trump plays a round of golf after the opening of The Trump International Golf Links Course on July 10, 2012 in Balmedie, Scotland. The controversial £100m course opens to the public on Sunday July 15. Further plans to build hotels and homes on the site have been put on hold until a decision has been made on the building of an offshore windfarm nearby. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
BIRCH RUN, MI - AUGUST 11: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a press conference before delivering the keynote address at the Genesee and Saginaw Republican Party Lincoln Day Event August 11, 2015 in Birch Run, Michigan. This is Trump's first campaign event since his Republican debate last week. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
BOCA RATON, FL - APRIL 16: Billionaire Donald Trump speaks to a crowd at the 2011 Palm Beach County Tax Day Tea Party April 16, 2011 at Sanborn Square in Boca Raton, Florida. Trump is considering a bid for the 2012 precidency and is expected to announce his running in the coming weeks. (Photo by John W. Adkisson/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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They are among the dozens of voters interviewed in the past two weeks by The Associated Press to understand how Trump has defied the laws of political gravity.

Uniting them is a deep-rooted anger and frustration with the nation's political leaders -- President Barack Obama and conservative Republicans who, these voters say, haven't sufficiently stood up to the Democratic administration.

Some haven't voted in years, or ever, and may not next year. But at this moment, they are entranced by Trump's combination of utter self-assurance, record of business success and a promise that his bank account is big enough to remain insulated from the forces they believe have poisoned Washington.

By the way, they say it's not that they are willing to look past Trump's flaws to fix what they believe ills the country. It's that those flaws are exactly what makes him the leader America needs.

"At least we know where he stands," said Kurt Esche, 49, an independent who was at Trump's recent rally outside Boston. "These other guys, I don't trust anything that comes out of their mouths. They're lying to get elected. This guy's at least saying what he believes."

"He may have started as a joke," Esche said, "but he may be the real deal."

Donald Trump's Most Insane and Controversial Comments

Crouse is a merchandise processor at a retail distributor outside Dubuque, the Mississippi River town where Trump tossed Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a news conference.

A political independent who has never participated in Iowa's leadoff presidential caucuses, Crouse said she began following Trump from the moment he referred to Mexican immigrants as criminals during his campaign kickoff.

"He's just attracting people who are frustrated, and as you can see, there are a lot of us," she said.

Illegal immigration is the perfect summation of Trump's unorthodox campaign.

He claims it's an issue the GOP would not be discussing if not for his presence in the race, even though the topic has been at the center of political debate for years.

It's the only one on which he has made a concrete proposal; his rivals, by comparison, have rolled out lots of ideas on a range of issues.

Here's Trump's pitch: deport millions of people who are living in the United States illegally and build a border wall. Critics deride this approach as naïve, but his supporters say it's the obvious solution.

"As crazy as it might be, I think he's addressing something that needs to be heard," said Randy Thomas, 40, of Bedford, New Hampshire. "I think he's saying something that everybody thinks always has to be addressed. If you have a country of laws, you have to abide by the laws."

Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who recently held a discussion with a group of nearly 30 Trump backers in Virginia, said such support is emblematic of Trump's popularity. It stems less from their love for the candidate and more from a belief those in power have failed.

"He activates the anger and frustration they have toward Washington and Wall Street," Luntz said.

For many, Trump's rise is a reaction to Obama, long criticized by opponents as a weak leader who appeases America's enemies rather than asserting U.S. dominance on the global stage.

The voters interviewed by AP said much of Trump's appeal stems from their belief he is a decisive and forceful leader who never backs down or apologizes, even when maybe he should.

Many appear convinced that the sheer force of Trump's personality can reverse decades of global realignment, and that his pledges to rid the country of people living in the U.S. illegally and penalize imported goods will restore manufacturing jobs lost to China and boost an economy still scarred by the recession.

"We're just so weak. We're not respected anymore," said Jerry Welshoff, 56, of Franklin, Massachusetts. He arrived at a recent Trump event near Boston unsure about the candidate; he emerged sold on the candidate.

"We've appeased everything. We can't negotiate. I would want Donald Trump to sit across a table from (Russian President Vladimir) Putin or Iran or the Mexican prime minister to cut a deal because he's done it his whole life," he said.

The frustration among voters isn't limited to their feelings about Obama.

Welshoff said the Republican Party has done nothing but acquiesce to Obama despite taking control of Congress in 2014.

It's the same complaint heard from Duane Ernster, 57, of Dubuque. He is disappointed by the few accomplishments of tea party candidates elected to Congress in 2010.

"Things just didn't happen. It just hasn't happened the way we'd hoped," he said. "Maybe we need a warrior instead of a politician. People compare Mr. Trump to Putin. There's something to be said about the man, who takes care of the Russian people."

Others are simply blown away by Trump's wealth and his promise to pay for his campaign out of his own pocket. "He won't owe anybody," said Susan Sager, 57, of Aiken, South Carolina.

This is an important point of distinction with both Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who began the campaign viewed as the GOP front-runner due in no small part to his ability to raise huge amounts of money.

"Remember this. They have total control over Jeb and Hillary and everybody else that takes that money," Trump said this past week, adding: "I will tell you this. Nobody's putting up millions of dollars for me. I'm putting up my own money."

The argument that Trump is uncorruptible is powerful.

"I just think he's doing it for all the right reasons," said Nancy Adam, 60, at the rally near Boston. "It's not about the money. It's not about the political power. He's already got everything. He has nothing to lose by doing this."

81 PHOTOS
Donald Trump's 2016 campaign
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Fed-up and angry supporters let Trump defy political gravity
CHARLESTON, WV - MAY 05: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during his rally at the Charleston Civic Center on May 5, 2016 in Charleston, West Virginia. Trump became the Republican presumptive nominee following his landslide win in indiana on Tuesday.(Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images)
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, gestures to attendees during a campaign event in Evansville, Indiana, U.S., on Thursday, April 28, 2016. Trump said he's campaigning hard to win Tuesday's presidential primary in Indiana and that if he prevails, his party's nomination contest will be 'over.' Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images
TAMPA, FL - MARCH 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a town hall meeting on March 14, 2016 at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa , Florida. Trump is campaigning ahead of the Florida primary on March 15. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH- MARCH 13: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses his campaign supporters during a campaign rally at the Savannah Center March 13, 2016, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Trump continue to campaign before Ohio March 15th primary day. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 15: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a primary night event at the Mar-A-Lago Club's Donald J. Trump Ballroom March 15, 2016 in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump won the state of Florida and Ohio Gov. John Kasich won the state of Ohio. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
HICKORY, NC - MARCH 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, talks with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, right, during a campaign rally at Lenoir-Rhyne University March 14, 2016 in Hickory, North Carolina. The North Carolina Republican primary will be held March 15. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, IL - MARCH 13: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pulls Alex Stypik from a crowd of supporters to show off his shirt during a rally at the Central Illinois Regional Airport on March 13, 2016 in Bloomington, Illinois. The Trump campaign cancelled a recent rally in Chicago after learning hundreds of demonstrators were ticketed for the event. Illinois voters go to the polls on March 15. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FL - MARCH 08: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up his book after holding a press conference at the Trump National Golf Club Jupiter on March 8, 2016 in Jupiter, Florida. Trump is projected to win the Republican Presidential primaries in Mississippi and Michigan. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
GREENVILLE, SC - FEBRUARY 15: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally held in the TD Convention Center in Greenville, SC on Monday Feb. 15, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, NH - FEBRUARY 09: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets people as he visits a polling station as voters cast their primary day ballots on February 9, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire. The process to select the next Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates continues. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks to the crowd during a rally February 8, 2016 in Manchester, NH. US presidential candidates, including billionaire Donald Trump and under-pressure Democrat Hillary Clinton, criss-crossed snowy New Hampshire in a final frantic bit to win over undecided voters before Tuesday's crucial primary. / AFP / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLDERNESS, NH - FEBRUARY 7: Patrons reach out for photos and signatures from republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as he greets people after speaking at a campaign rally at Plymouth State University in Holderness, NH on Sunday Feb. 07, 2016. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop at Farmington High School, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, in Farmington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
MARSHALLTOWN, IA - JANUARY 26: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally on January 26, 2016 in Marshalltown, Iowa. Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the anti-immigration sheriff from Maricopa County, Arizona, today announced his support for Trump's presidential bid. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, left, endorses Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a rally at the Iowa State University, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
WINTERSET, IA - JANUARY 19: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the John Wayne Birthplace Museum on January 19, 2016 in Winterset, Iowa. Trump received the endorsement of Aissa Wayne, John Wayne's daughter. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves to supporters after meeting with volunteers at the local Pizza Ranch restaurant, Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, in Waukee, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump stands on the stage before the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in North Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - JANUARY 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump participates in the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center on January 14, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina. The sixth Republican debate is held in two parts, one main debate for the top seven candidates, and another for three other candidates lower in the current polls. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop at the Flynn Center of the Performing Arts in Burlington, Vt., Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE - Emmy Award-nominated 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' airs every weeknight (11:35 p.m. - 12:41 a.m., ET), packed with hilarious comedy bits and features a diverse lineup of guests including celebrities, athletes, musicians, comedians and humorous human interest subjects. The guests for Wednesday, December 16 included Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump and musical guest Gary Clark Jr. (Photo by Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images) DONALD TRUMP, JIMMY KIMMEL
GRAND RAPIDS, MI - DECEMBER 21: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to guests at a campaign rally on December 21, 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The full-house event was repeatedly interrupted by protestors. Trump continues to lead the most polls in the race for the Republican nomination for president. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
MESA, AZ - DECEMBER 16: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to guest gathered during a campaign event at the International Air Response facility on December 16, 2015 in Mesa, Arizona. Trump is in Arizona the day after the Republican Presidential Debate hosted by CNN in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 13: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves as he is introduced during the Sunshine Summit conference being held at the Rosen Shingle Creek on November 13, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. The summit brought Republican presidential candidates in front of the Republican voters. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts to a reporter's question in the spin room following the Republican Presidential Debate hosted by Fox Business and The Wall Street Journal November 10, 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. AFP PHOTO / JOSHUA LOTT (Photo credit should read Joshua LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03: Donald Trump attends a press conference for the release of his new book 'Crippled America' at Trump Tower on November 3, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during a press conference during a event to launch his new book 'Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again' at Trump Tower on November 3, 2015 in New York. Donald Trump published a book about the ills of America to another media frenzy Tuesday, signing copies for fans, insulting his rivals on the campaign trail and telling Americans to elect him president. 'Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again,' offers the everyday reader his take on the problems facing the country and why they should elect him to the White House to fix them. AFP PHOTO/Kena Betancur (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters during a rally, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015 in Norfolk, Va. (AP Photo/Jason Hirschfeld)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump looks out from his car window as he leaves after speaking at a town hall meeting at the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, N.H., Monday, Oct. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
RICHMOND, VA - OCTOBER 14: Republican presidential candidate and front-runner Donald Trump walks out on stage during a campaign rally at the Richmond International Raceway October 14, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. A New York real estate mogul and reality television star, Trump is now in a statistical tie with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson in a Fox News survey of likely Republican voters released Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds up a cap that he signed for a supporter during a rally at the Expo Hall of the Richmond International Raceway on October 14, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, VA - OCTOBER 14: Republican presidential candidate and front-runner Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally at the Richmond International Raceway October 14, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. A New York real estate mogul and reality television star, Trump is now in a statistical tie with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson in a Fox News survey of likely Republican voters released Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to give a speech outlining his vision for tax reform at his skyscraper on Fifth Avenue on September 28, 2015 in New York City. Under the plan there would be four tax categories, with people earning less than $25,000 per year paying 0% tax. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 23: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the media before a campaign event September 23, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Earlier today, Trump tweeted 'FoxNews has been treating me very unfairly & I have therefore decided that I won't be doing any more Fox shows for the foreseeable future.' (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters during a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center on September 14, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. More than 20,000 tickets had been distributed for the event. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a national security speech aboard the World War II Battleship USS Iowa, September 15, 2015, in San Pedro, California. AFP PHOTO /ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center on September 14, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. More than 20,000 tickets have been distributed for the event. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds his pledge during a news conference, at Trump Tower in New York, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. Trump ruled out the prospect of a third-party White House bid and vowed to support the Republican Party's nominee, whoever it may be. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, center, stops to take a photograph with Jim Tranz, of Port Charlotte, Fla., as he walks with a crowd during the final round of play at The Barclays golf tournament Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015, in Edison, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, second left, applauds play as he walks with a crowd during the final round of play at The Barclays golf tournament Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015, in Edison, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, greets attendees during a rally at Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa, U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. President Barack Obama's top business ambassador dismissed Trump's call for a wall along the Mexico border, saying the U.S. is focused instead on expanding business with one of its biggest trade partners. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A woman with her baby shows excitement when the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets them after he speaks at a campaign pep rally, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
MOBILE, AL- AUGUST 21: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump introduces Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (R) Mobile during his rally at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on August 21, 2015 in Mobile, Alabama. The Donald Trump campaign moved tonight's rally to a larger stadium to accommodate demand. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump speaks during a campaign pep rally, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
UNITED STATES - August 15: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets fairgoers as he visits the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, August 15, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 15: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets fairgoers while campaigning at the Iowa State Fair on August 15, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Presidential candidates are addressing attendees at the Iowa State Fair on the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox stage and touring the fairgrounds. The State Fair runs through August 23. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets the crowd at the Iowa State Fair Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump talks to the media after arriving by helicopter at a nearby ballpark before Trump attended the Iowa State Fair Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump appears before addressing a GOP fundraising event, Tuesday, Aug, 11, 2015, in Birch Run, Mich. Trump attended the Lincoln Day Dinner of the Genesee and Saginaw county Republican parties. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Real estate tycoon Donald Trump flashes the thumbs-up as he arrives on stage for the start of the prime time Republican presidential debate on August 6, 2015 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
AYR, SCOTLAND - JULY 30: Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump visits his Scottish golf course Turnberry on July 30, 2015 in Ayr, Scotland. Donald Trump will answer questions from the media at a press conference where reporters will be limited to questions just about golf. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Presidential contender Donald Trump poses for the media during the third day of the Women's British Open golf championship on the Turnberry golf course in Turnberry, Scotland, Saturday, Aug. 01, 2015. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump drives a golf buggy during his visits to his Scottish golf course Turnberry on July 30, 2015 in Ayr, Scotland. Donald Trump answered questions from the media at a press conference held in his hotel. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Presidential contender Donald Trump, right, does a high five with Jonathan Lynch, during the second day of the Women's British Open golf championship on the Turnberry golf course in Turnberry, Scotland, Friday, July 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
FILE - In this July 25, 2015 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Trump, widely believed to the be the wealthiest American ever to run for president, is nowhere among the ranks of the country’s most generous citizens, according to an Associated Press review of his financial records and other government filings. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 22: Donald Trump greets supporters, tourists and the curious after taping an interview with Anderson Cooper at a Trump owned building in mid-town Manhattan on July 22, 2015 in New York City. Trump, who is running for president on a Republican ticket, has come under intensifying criticism for his behavior on the campaign trail. The billionaire's most recent comments on Senator John McCain's war record in Vietnam have resulted in almost universal criticism from fellow candidates. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
LAREDO, TEXAS - JULY 23: Republican Presidential candidate and business mogul Donald Trump talks to media from his car wearing a, 'Make America Great Again,' hat during his trip to the border on July 23, 2015 in Laredo, Texas. Trump's recent comments, calling some immigrants from Mexico as drug traffickers and rapists, have stirred up reactions on both sides of the aisle. Although fellow Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has denounced Trump's comments and his campaign in general, U.S. Senator from Texas Ted-Cruz has so far refused to bash his fellow Republican nominee. (Photo by Matthew Busch/Getty Images)
LAREDO, TEXAS - JULY 23: Republican Presidential candidate and business mogul Donald Trump talks to the media at a press conference during his trip to the border on July 23, 2015 in Laredo, Texas. Trump's recent comments, calling some immigrants from Mexico as drug traffickers and rapists, have stirred up reactions on both sides of the aisle. Although fellow Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has denounced Trump's comments and his campaign in general, U.S. Senator from Texas Ted-Cruz has so far refused to bash his fellow Republican nominee. (Photo by Matthew Busch/Getty Images)
AMES, IA - JULY 18: Republican presidential hopeful businessman Donald Trump fields questions at The Family Leadership Summit at Stephens Auditorium on July 18, 2015 in Ames, Iowa. According to the organizers the purpose of The Family Leadership Summit is to inspire, motivate, and educate conservatives. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks before a crowd of 3,500 Saturday, July 11, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 11: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses supporters during a political rally at the Phoenix Convention Center on July 11, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. Trump spoke about illegal immigration and other topics in front of an estimated crowd of 4,200. (Photo by Charlie Leight/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pauses as he speaks before a crowd of 3,500 Saturday, July 11, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves to the crowd as he arrives to speak at a rally before a crowd of 3,500 Saturday, July 11, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Donald Trump gestures while speaking surrounded by people whose families were victims of illegal immigrants on July 10, 2015 while meeting with the press at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, where some shared their stories of the loss of a loved one. The US business magnate Trump, who is running for president in the 2016 presidential elections, angered members of the Latino community with recent comments but says he will win the Latino vote. AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump smiles as he leaves after speaking at a news conference about immigration, Friday, July 10, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Donald Trump gestures while speaking surrounded by people who's families were victims of illegal immigrants on July 10, 2015 while meeting with the press at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, where some shared their stories of the loss of a loved one. The US business magnate Trump, who is running forpPresident in the 2016 presidential elections, angered members of the Latino community with recent comments but says he will win the Latino vote. AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 06: Donald Trump attends the 2015 Hank's Yanks Golf Classic at Trump Golf Links Ferry Point on July 6, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump talks with reporters after speaking to members of the City Club of Chicago, Monday, June 29, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Real estate mogul Donald Trump announces his bid for the presidency in the 2016 presidential race during an event at the Trump Tower on the Fifth Avenue in New York City on June 16, 2015. Trump, one of America's most flamboyant and outspoken billionaires, threw his hat into the race Tuesday for the White House, promising to make America great again. The 69-year-old long-shot candidate ridiculed the country's current crop of politicians and vowed to take on the growing might of China in a speech launching his run for the presidency in 2016. 'I am officially running for president of the United States and we are going to make our country great again,' he said from a podium bedecked in US flags at Trump Tower on New York's Fifth Avenue. The tycoon strode onto the stage after sailing down an escalator to the strains of 'Rockin' In The Free World' by Canadian singer Neil Young after being introduced by daughter Ivanka. His announcement follows years of speculation that the man known to millions as the bouffant-haired host of American reality TV game show 'The Apprentice' would one day enter politics. Trump identifies himself as a Republican, and has supported Republican candidates in the past. But in his announcement speech he did not explicitly say if he was running for the party's nomination or as an independent.AFP PHOTO/ KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 16: (L-R) Eric Trump, Lara Yunaska Trump, Donald Trump, Barron Trump, Melania Trump, Vanessa Haydon Trump, Kai Madison Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Donald John Trump III, and Ivanka Trump pose for photos on stage after Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the U.S. presidency at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015 in New York City. Trump is the 12th Republican who has announced running for the White House. (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)
Photo by: Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx 6/16/15 Donald Trump announces his Candidacy for President of The United States of America at Trump Tower. (NYC)
PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 11: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses supporters during a political rally at the Phoenix Convention Center on July 11, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. Trump spoke about illegal immigration and other topics in front of an estimated crowd of 4,200. (Photo by Charlie Leight/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 16: Business mogul Donald Trump gives a speech as he announces his candidacy for the U.S. presidency at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015 in New York City. Trump is the 12th Republican who has announced running for the White House. (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - MAY 16: Businessman Donald Trump speaks to guests gathered for the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center on May 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The event sponsored by the Republican Party of Iowa gave several Republican presidential hopefuls an opportunity to strengthen their support among Iowa Republicans ahead of the 2016 Iowa caucus. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - MAY 16: Businessman Donald Trump speaks to guests gathered for the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center on May 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The event sponsored by the Republican Party of Iowa gave several Republican presidential hopefuls an opportunity to strengthen their support among Iowa Republicans ahead of the 2016 Iowa caucus. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 16: Business mogul Donald Trump arrives at a press event where he announced his candidacy for the U.S. presidency at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015 in New York City. Trump is the 12th Republican who has announced running for the White House. (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 16: Business mogul Donald Trump arrives at a press event where he announced his candidacy for the U.S. presidency at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015 in New York City. Trump is the 12th Republican who has announced running for the White House. (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump greets supporters at a campaign rally in Clive, Iowa, U.S., September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gestures to supporters as he departs a campaign rally in Clive, Iowa, U.S., September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016, in Clive, Iowa. A war of words over Donald Trumpâs âdeplorablesâ is intensifying as Republicans and Democrats fight to score political points over Hillary Clintonâs charge that millions of the New York billionaireâs supporters are racist, sexist and homophobic. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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Trump's uncanny ability to stumble without consequence has befuddled his rivals.

The latest misstep for Trump came Thursday. After pledging only to run as a Republican, he fumbled a series of foreign policy questions from radio host Hugh Hewitt. Trump confused the Quds Force, an elite Iranian military unit, and the Kurds, an ethnic group of more than 30 million people.

He said the line of inquiry amounted to a "gotcha question."

"I mean, you know, when you're asking me about who's running this, this this, that's not, that is not," Trump said, "I will be so good at the military, your head will spin."

Such an answer would invariably be attacked as disqualifying if offered by anyone other than Trump. His rivals have yet to figure out how to challenge an unpredictable opponent who appears immune to such gaffes.

"He just keeps repeating things over and over again. And you all just accept it for the truth, and it's not," Bush told reporters in New Hampshire on Thursday.

Indeed, Trump's foibles often appear to make him stronger.

During his recent discussion with Trump supporters, Luntz played several video clips of the billionaire's least flattering moments.

One was Trump's rejection of Arizona Sen. John McCain's status as a war hero — "I like people that weren't captured, OK?" Another was his complimenting daughter Ivanka's figure and saying that if she "weren't my daughter, perhaps I'd be dating her."

Instead of being rattled, the participants ate up Trump's comments and left the meeting feeling even more confident in their support for him than when they had arrived.

"I think the Trump candidacy is here to stay and I think Republicans need to figure out how to deal with it," Luntz said. He said there is little the party establishment, journalists or his rivals with a background in politics can do to knock Trump down, because the candidate's supporters distrust those groups so strongly.

"In essence, he's Teflon because the people most able to take him down can't because of the very jobs that they do," he said.

It's for that reason that Herman Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather's Pizza who rose to the top of the polls in the fall of 2011, only to see his fortunes derailed by allegations of sexual harassment, said he believes that Trump can succeed.

"It is a totally new paradigm for how the race for president is unfolding," said Cain, making the case that Trump, as well as two other Republican candidates, former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, had tapped into a portion of the electorate that is typically disengaged from the political process.

Donald Trump Invites Woman on Stage to Prove His Hair Is Real

Many of the Trump supporters interviewed by AP said there was a chance they might change their minds before voting next year or sit the contest out. Trump's campaign operation lacks the sophistication of many of his rivals, who in some cases have years of experience in politics and the business of getting out the vote.

For all of Trump's success so far, he's yet to drive any candidate from the race.

There are several debates still to come and five months until the Iowa caucuses — enough time for a rival to build a winning coalition of voters such as Marvin Smith, a Republican from Independence, Kentucky, who said Trump "scares the hell out of me."

"He's appealing to some base emotions. But my worry is that he splinters the Republican Party," Smith said. "He's saying the message people want to hear, but I don't like the way he's saying it."

But anyone who has bet against Trump so far in this campaign has come up — as Trump would say — a loser.

Paul Demerjian, a 55-year-old small business owner from Stoneham, Massachusetts, said he isn't much into politics. But there he was at a recent Trump rally outside Boston, mobbing Trump's SUV as he made his exit.

"I haven't been passionate about a politician running for office since Ronald Reagan," he said.

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