Krugman argues that The Donald is not any worse than the other clowns running for the GOP nomination. However, he may be too extreme for the "very serious people" in the media who find nothing wrong with the other clowns who oppose The Donald. Krugman reserves his criticism for the VSP in the media who believe that the clowns are much different from The Donald.
One can be critical of the GOP primary base for preferring Trump to the rest of "the gang that can't shoot straight" but they know that things are not going well for them. Trump is more extreme on immigration because he is only concerned about winning the primary. He will change his tune if he gets into a general election. Trump also decided to blame China for the loss of US jobs. He claims that he will bring those jobs back to the US because he is a great negotiator. The other clowns can't go that far because they depend upon campaign contributions from the corporations that have out shored jobs to low wage countries. Trump knows the he can't reverse globalization, but he also knows that attacking China is good politics among the disaffected.
The rise of Donald Trump's popularity in the GOP base raises an interesting question about electoral politics in the US. The GOP created the Tea Party to solidify its hold on a large segment of the economically disaffected by focusing on social value issues and a host of irrational fears that are amplified by their friends in the media. The Donald, so far, has trumped the other contenders for the Tea Party vote. The Democratic Party faces a different problem. Its "liberal" policies have turned it into an enemy for a large segment of the economically disaffected. It has struggled to find powerful messages that resonate to many Americans who are concerned about their economic welfare. Ironically, it has taken a more rational approach that works around the edges of economic policy, and it has been more rational about immigration policy and other value oriented issues that have been exploited by the GOP, but the VSP in the media continue to portray the GOP as the rational party that is more able to manage the federal budget. They let the GOP get away away with cutting taxes for the rich, and borrowing to fund the federal budget, under both Reagan and Bush, who ran the largest peacetime budget deficits in our history. They view the funding of popular social welfare programs like Social Security and Medicare as the enemy of responsible government.