Opinion: Trump-mania -- yes, it's very real

Protesters outside the University of Houston (Patrick Gower / Newshub)
Protesters outside the University of Houston (Patrick Gower / Newshub)

By Patrick Gower

One thing is very striking on the campaign trail in the United States - the rise and rise of Donald Trump is all too real.

Trump talk is everywhere I've been in my 24 hours in Houston.

When I told the cabbie we're from New Zealand -- he responded, "So, you’re here for Trump."

The top journalists and pundits here at the University of Houston for tonight's debate are all getting their heads around the real rise of Trump. They are bemused and are switching into explaining mode.

The protesters outside the university are genuinely pumped and wound up about the role of the "Divider-in-Chief" as they call him.

Even the grassroots Republicans at rival candidate Marco Rubio's rally seemed forlorn and resigned by the rise of "the Donald", angry and frustrated that he is not a real Republican.

The Republicans seem at a loss to stop Trump; Rubio and Ted Cruz look out of sorts -- it is as if there is no plan B.

The Democrat talk is all about who out of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders can "beat Trump", as if he has been anointed.

Trump seems to be leaving everyone in his wake - a kind of political punch-drunk.

Trump is no longer some out-of-body politics reality show - it is real, it is genuine and it seems kind of out of control.

The debate in Houston is being billed as high stakes ahead of Super Tuesday, but given Trump’s momentum even a stumble may not affect him.

Only a battering at the ballot box on Tuesday could slow Trump.

The question for all the other Republican candidates tonight is: "What to do about Donald Trump?"

Make no mistake -- the rise of Trump is real. If it carries on, the question America and then maybe the world will be asking is "What to do about Donald Trump?"