It’s the most direct attack on Donald Trump from Republican leaders yet — and it’s causing a major shakeup in the GOP debate.
In a special edition released today, The National Review published essays from 22 leading conservatives who demanded that the Republican party and voters distance themselves from Trump.
The list of authors providing scathing anti-Trump essays included TV personality Glenn Beck; Ed Meese, the former attorney general under Pres. Ronald Reagan; and Michael Mukasey, who served as attorney general under Pres. George W. Bush.
Executives from several leading conservative think-tanks and religious groups also penned pieces for the issue.
The essays largely carried similar themes — that Trump is not a genuine conservative, that his angry rhetoric was not helpful, and that his candidacy represents a backward step for the conservative movement.
“At a time when the nation is suffering under one of the most divisive and incompetent presidents in history, our people need positive, unifying leadership, not negative, destructive political rhetoric,” Meese wrote.
Trump responded by calling The National Review, which was founded by William F. Buckley, Jr., “a dying paper” out for publicity.
The Republican National Committee, which has long been fearful of a Trump third-party bid and any accusations that it’s not treating Trump fairly, moved quickly to control the damage. The RNC stripped The National Review of its standing as a partner for the next Republican presidential debate, set to be held Feb. 22nd in Texas.
In addition to criticism from some conservative circles for some of his positions, the billionaire businessman has also faced resistance from the Republican establishment, which remains largely splintered between candidates like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Seemingly unfazed, Trump said Thursday at a rally that the Republican establishment is actually “warming up” to his candidacy.
“I think they’re warming up. I want to be honest, I have received so many phone calls from people that you would call establishment, from people — generally speaking … conservatives, Republicans — that want to come onto our team,” Trump told reporters in Las Vegas before an appearance at the Outdoor Sportsman Awards.
“We are getting calls from everybody that it’s actually amazing. I’m actually surprised,” he added.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.