Donald Trump has managed to defy every law of political gravity, turning the GOP presidential race upside down while leaving veteran pundits scratching their heads as they try to explain the real estate developer’s persistent popularity among Republican primary voters.
But when it comes to the Hollywood conservative crowd, Trump has been regarded with a mix of suspicion and disdain. “He’s just too rough around the edges,” one Hollywood conservative told TheWrap.
“I can’t say that I know one person in Hollywood who supports him,” said Dave Berg, a former co-producer of “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and member of the leading group of industry conservatives, Friends of Abe.
Trump, once considered a flash-in-the-pan, has proven to be remarkably resilient in his controversial quest for the GOP nomination. According to a One America News Network survey released Wednesday, 35 percent of registered Republicans said Trump won Tuesday’s GOP debate in Las Vegas. Roughly the same amount — 34 percent — said they plan on voting for the mogul.
But all that goodwill hasn’t crossed into the 30-Mile Zone. “A lot of people in Hollywood are holding their breath to see whether he survives,” Lionel Chetwynd, an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and Friends of Abe member, told TheWrap.
One sticking point for many Hollywood conservatives has been Trump’s controversial proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S., as well as his recent call to shut down the Internet in certain areas to stop the spread of terror.
Those ideas were like fingernails on a chalkboard among industry conservatives, who tend to be more moderate than most Republicans, particularly when it comes to social issues.
“I’m very worried about the things he’s been saying,” Berg said. “It’s not only shocking but absolutely un-American.”
Still, L.A.-area Republicans have not yet coalesced around any other single candidate — unlike area Democrats, who have mostly rallied around their party’s frontrunner, Hillary Clinton.
At the moment, the most talked-about Republican contenders in L.A. include Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and, to a lesser extent, Ben Carson and Jeb Bush.
Cruz, who has been rising in the polls among Republican primary voters, stopped by L.A. on Wednesday and attended a Beverly Hills fundraiser that attracted industry conservatives such as playwright David Mamet and “Ray Donovan” star Steven Bauer.
But Trump could end up getting the last laugh, along with the Hollywood conservative vote after all.
“Given the choice between him and Hillary Clinton, I would absolutely vote for Trump,” Chetwynd said. “And you can quote me on that.”