If the Republican Party’s problem with voters of color was a hot mess before Trump ran a racist, xenophobic and nativist campaign to become its presumptive presidential nominee, then there are no words to describe it now.
“I have a great relationship with the blacks,” Trump famously said in 2011 when he was flirting with a presidential run in 2012. “I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks.” And then Friday, seeing a black person at his rally in Redding, Calif., Trump said, “Oh look at my African American over here. Are you the greatest?” In reality, according to the New York Times, Gregory Cheadle is “a local real estate broker running for a Republican nomination for a congressional seat.” Cheadle told the Times that he “is not actually a Trump supporter, saying that he went to a Bernie Sanders rally the night before.”
But singling out a black face in a crowd is nothing compared to what Trump is doing to alienate Latino voters. For more than a week now, he has attacked Gonzalo Curiel, a federal judge overseeing a lawsuit concerning Trump University. “The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great,” Trump said May 28. When it was revealed that Curiel is American and was born and raised in Indiana, Trump switched to “of Mexican heritage.” Trump extended his racist claims of possible bias to Muslim American judges in an interview on Sunday.
The reaction among Republicans to all this has been something to behold. “Look, the comment about the judge, just was out of left field for my mind,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) told a Milwaukee radio station on June 3. It shouldn’t have been. In the lobby of his eponymous tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, Trump announced his campaign and set its forthcoming tone when he talked about how “The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.”
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people.
Anyone paying attention since Trump said this on June 16, 2015, should neither be shocked nor surprised by what’s happening now. And those suddenly in high-dudgeon after turning a deaf ear to nearly a year of racially and ethnically tinged ugliness need only look in the mirror to understand how someone so ill-suited to lead the United States stands so close to becoming president.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj