To recap, Trump had mocked Bush for speaking in Spanish, claiming that he “should really set the example by speaking English while in the United States.” Apparently it’s self-evidently ludicrous for a Republican presidential candidate to try to appeal to Latino voters by speaking their language. Bush’s response is worth quoting at length:
“Donald Trump is trying to insult his way to the presidency. It’s not gonna work. People want an uplifting, hopeful message. People come to this country to pursue their dreams. Sometimes they start without speaking English. But they learn English. And they add vitality to our country.“To say you can only speak English is kind of ridiculous, if you think about it….This is a diverse country. We should celebrate that diversity and embrace a set of shared values. Mr. Trump doesn’t believe in those shared values. He wants to tear us down. He doesn’t believe in tolerance. He doesn’t believe in the things that have created the greatness of this country.”
What this shows, I think, is that Jeb Bush’s claim last year that illegal immigration is an “act of love” continues to be a seminal moment that perfectly captured the split among Republicans over the issue. In those comments, Bush essentially challenged fellow Republicans to see illegal immigrants as more than mere lawbreakers, arguing that their plight is a morally complex one and that they have something positive to contribute to American life. This laid bare the fundamental divide among Republicans, between those who see illegal immigrants in the same terms as Bush does and are thus willing to accept some sort of compromise around legalization, and those who cannot accept legalization under any conditions (or until some undefined state of border security perfection is attained first). It’s worth noting that Trump has also mocked these “act of love” comments.
Bush has in some ways proven disappointing on immigration, retreating on the solutions he’s willing to embrace, and inexplicably defending the term “anchor babies.” But his comments today suggest he is sticking to the same overall message he sounded last year. The difference now is that this comes at a moment when Trumpism is on the rise among GOP primary voters, precisely because (or so it appears, at least in part) of Trump’s intolerant, exclusionary message, which is essentially that immigrants are the cause of American workers’ suffering. One poll shows that nearly half of Iowa GOP caucus-goers agree with his call for mass deportations, and that three quarters of Trump backers in Iowa do; and multiple national polls have shown majorities of Republicans agree with some of Trump’s most base pronouncements on immigration.
Yet Bush is pressing on. Either he thinks he can win this argument with Trump even among some of those who are drawn to Trump’s siren song, or he is betting that more GOP primary voters (nationally, or in the states that make up his path to the nomination) will agree with him than with his nemesis. Or possibly Bush thinks he just has to wait for Trump-ism to burn out. Whatever the explanation, right now Bush seems to be issuing a challenge to Republican voters to rise above Trumpism, and it appears that Bush himself views what he’s doing in those terms.
* INSIDE JEB’S STRATEGY FOR OUTLASTING TRUMP: The Post reports that Jeb Bush’s campaign is hoping to outlast Trump by establishing his record as a conservative reformer and waiting until the Trump hysteria runs its course. But Bush’s campaign sees the Trump threat as very real:
“Mr. Trump is in this for the long haul,” [Bush adviser Danny] Diaz said. “I think that’s abundantly clear. I think it’s also clear that he intends to run a legitimate campaign.”…Among Bush associates, the consensus view on Trump has veered from chuckles and condescension earlier this year to alarm. Some fear the Bush-Trump feud could consume the campaign.
At least Bush has not responded to the Trump threat by gravitating towards his positions in the manner other GOP candidates have.
* REPUBLICANS PANICKED ABOUT LATINO VOTE: The Washington Examiner’s David Drucker reports that GOP insiders are increasingly worried that they will not win Latinos in the numbers they need to win the presidency in 2016:
Experienced political strategists estimate that the eventual Republican nominee needs to earn at least approximately 35 percent of the Hispanic vote in both Colorado and Nevada to compete for their Electoral College votes and at least 40 percent, if not 45 percent, of Hispanics in Florida…These three states matter so much for Republicans because their party has a narrow path to 270 Electoral College votes….There are paths that might exclude Colorado and Nevada, albeit unlikely paths, but none that exclude Florida.
No worries. There are probably plenty of missing white voters who didn’t show up in 2012 who will come out to make up the difference. So some of the non-Jeb GOP contenders seem to think, anyway!
* FIGHT OVER IRAN DEAL IS NOT OVER: With 34 Senators now backing the Iran deal, Politico reports that supporters are pushing the remaining undecided Democrats to support the deal, to get to 41 and avoid a veto-override fight. This, from undecided Dem Ben Cardin, is key:
Cardin downplayed the significance of whether Democrats would be able to secure enough votes in the Senate to filibuster a resolution of disapproval — noting that [Senator Barbara] Mikulski’s support ensured Obama’s Iran deal would stay alive no matter what. “The critical vote is 67,” Cardin said. “Not 60.”
That sounds as if Cardin thinks Senators are now “freed up” to vote No. Watch for more of that. But a veto-override fight could also have consequences, and avoiding it would be preferable.
* CAMPAIGN AGAINST PLANNED PARENTHOOD COULD SHUT GOVERNMENT: GOP leaders have pledged to avoid a government shutdown this fall. But conservatives want any funding bill to also defund Planned Parenthood. National Journal explains why conservatives think this time is the charm:
Conservatives who once acknowledged the futility of the 2013 shutdown have become emboldened by the anti-establishment fervor sweeping the Republican presidential race, where political novices Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina are surging in the polls.
Okay, so perhaps the GOP base will get extra worked up this time. But why would Dems be any more likely to cave?
* REPUBLICANS PLOT WAYS TO UNDERMINE IRAN DEAL: The New York Times reports that Republicans, resigned to the Iran deal going forward, plan to hold votes on measures re-imposing sanctions. The idea is to send a message to Iran, but it might “undermine the legitimacy of the United States with its negotiating partners.” And it would “put Democrats in a difficult position”:
Even if these sanctions are never reimposed, Republicans could use the issue in an effort to divide Democrats in 2016.
As always, Republicans are certain, absolutely certain, that support for the Iran deal will prove a political liability over time.
* GOP DEMANDS CANDIDATES (TRUMP) SIGN LOYALTY PLEDGE: The Republican National Committee is now demanding that the presidential candidates (read: Donald Trump) sign this pledge:
“I [name] affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for president of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is,” reads the document. “I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.”
It should be interesting to hear Trump’s response to this demand for a pledge of loyalty to the GOP establishment, given that his continuing surge is supposedly driven by anger at that establishment.