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The GOP’s latest ethnicity and inclusion challenge. His name is Donald Trump.

Real estate mogul Donald Trump speaks June 6. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
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A few weeks after Republican presidential contenders struggled to find their footing on the Charleston shooting and then seemed to decide almost all at once that the era of public Confederate displays had reached its just end, candidate Donald Trump has become the latest in a series of challenges around race, ethnicity and inclusion with which right-leaning politicians must contend.

The situation began when Trump described Mexicans entering the country illegally as “rapists” and “murderers” during a June speech announcing his plans to seek the GOP’s 2016 presidential nomination. In the weeks that have followed, Trump has doubled down on his comments, insisting that despite the fact that illegal migration has reached a 40-year low at the U.S.-Mexico border, the phenomenon remains one of the country’s leading challenges. He's also said that undocumented immigrants are a major source of crime in the United States. And Trump has lost successive business deals with Univision, NBC and Macy's.

On the Sunday shows, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) came pretty close to outright praise for Trump. Former Texas governor Rick Perry and former Florida governor Jeb Bush described Trump’s comments as offensive. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie skated comment on Trump’s description of Mexican nationals but called Trump’s security approach of building a bigger, better wall at the border as “unrealistic.” And former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee first evaded the Trump question, then drew a sharp contrast between his views and those of the New York businessman.

Trump has said repeatedly that if elected he would build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, then bill Mexico for its cost. He has leaned heavily on the capacity of a wall to resolve U.S. businesses’ demand for cheap labor, the range of economic need and violence, and the limited options for legal migration to the United States from Latin America that have together driven millions to illegally cross the border.

This morning while talking to NBC's Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press," Cruz studiously avoided any direct criticism of Trump. Instead, he may have coined a new phrase for primary season warfare.

I like Donald Trump. He's bold, he's brash. And I get it that it seems the favorite sport of the Washington media is to encourage some Republicans to attack other Republicans. I'm not going to do it. I'm not interested in Republican-on-Republican violence.

Over on CNN's "State of the Union," Huckabee first demurred on a question about Trump. But a few moments later, when asked about the damage Trump may be doing to other Republicans, Huckabee got pretty clear.

I say every night, I get on my knees and thank God I'm in a country people are trying to break into rather than one they're trying to break out of.

My own experience as a governor of Arkansas, with many, many immigrants, not just from Mexico, but from throughout the areas of Central and South America, my experience is that most of them have come for opportunity. They come to help their families, some of the hardest-working people, interestingly, too, Jake -- and I think this is often lost -- some of the most conservative, family-oriented and faith-based people I have ever witnessed.

Meanwhile, over on ABC’s "This Week," Perry responded to Trump’s claims that Perry should have done a “better job” responding to security problems along the border as the chief executive in Texas. Perry started by plugging his own border security efforts. Then, there was this:

Donald Trump does not represent the Republican Party. I was offended by his remarks. Listen, Hispanics in America and Hispanics in Texas from the Alamo, Afghanistan have been extraordinary people, citizens of our country and of our state. They have served nobly. And to paint with that broad a brush that Donald Trump did ... I mean, he’s going to have to defend those remarks. I never will.

"Meet the Press" also aired footage of Bush on the campaign trail this week clearly distancing himself and the Republican Party. Bush described Trump's comments as attention seeking and inflammatory. And on "Fox News Sunday," Christie didn't say a word about Trump's speech but did describe Trump's plans to build a more expansive wall along the border as little more than political grandstanding.

Away from the Sunday shows, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and former New York governor George Pataki have also managed pretty clear rebukes of Trump and his comments.

There are more than a few possible reads on just why some candidates are willing to criticize Trump or divorce themselves from the ideas expressed in Trump’s announcement and others aren't. The candidates could be expressing sincere beliefs. Some may be searching for a way to draw in moderate Republican support. And others still may be more interested in picking up Trump’s supporters when his campaign experiences its seemingly inevitable crash.

CORRECTION: This post has been altered to remove quotes misattributed to Huckabee due to a transcription service error.