And, true to form, Trump burned himself.
His coronavirus “update” ended abruptly after he hurled a bigoted remark toward an American journalist who grew up in West Virginia. When CBS News’s Weijia Jiang asked Trump about his misleading testing comments, the president blurted out: “You should ask China.” Jiang’s family emigrated from China when she was 2. For what it’s worth, Trump’s own mother immigrated to the United States when she was 18, and his wife, Melania, gained an “Einstein Visa,” reserved for those of “extraordinary ability,” in 2001. After Trump’s snarling China comment, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins pressed Trump until he abruptly retreated from the presidential podium.
As he stumbled away, one couldn’t help but be reminded of Trump’s racist 2016 attacks aimed at Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel. The then-candidate said he couldn’t trust Curiel because he was “Mexican,” but Curiel is an Indiana native; his parents immigrated there from Mexico before he was born. Republican politicians responded strongly to the Curiel attacks. Maine Sen. Susan Collins said they did not “represent our American values”; Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said Trump’s comments were “the literal definition of racism”; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio declared that the words did “not [reflect] well on us as a nation; and then-House Speaker Paul D. Ryan called Trump’s attack on the Indiana judge a “textbook definition of a racist comment.”
Four years later, Trump’s Republican Party has become numbed to its party leader’s daily outrages — the racist attacks, the 18,000 lies (and counting), the petty insults, the breaches of constitutional norms, and the gross incompetence that has worsened the covid-19 crisis in the United States and has driven America to the edge of a depression. These GOP politicians have long believed that ignoring Trump’s unfitness for office is their best political play, but the Democratic Party’s historic landslide in 2018 along with their Southern gubernatorial victories last year suggest just the opposite. Public and private polls are looking worse for Republicans than they have since 2008.
If Democrats win back the White House and control of the Senate in 2020, much of that will be because black and Hispanic voters continue to reject Republican candidates. But Monday’s ugly display also brought into sharp relief another glaring problem for the Party of Trump: Asian Americans. When George H.W. Bush lost his reelection bid to Bill Clinton in 1992, the Republican president still received 55 percent of the Asian American vote; Ronald Reagan had fared even better. By 2014, Democrats were winning 49 percent of Asian Americans, and after two years of Trump in the White House, that number jumped to 77 percent. With outbursts such as Monday’s, one wonders how much worse things will be for Trump’s Grand Old Party this fall.
Republicans allowed their movement to be hijacked by a man who spent the past 20 years making political contributions to the likes of Andrew M. Cuomo, Hillary Clinton, Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer and Kamala D. Harris; the costs of such cynicism are growing higher by the day. Republican incumbent senators in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Maine and North Carolina face serious threats from their Democratic opponents in recent polls. Once-safe states such as Kansas and Georgia are in play, and Trump himself is losing head-to-head matchups with presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida. Recent polls show the two are even tied in traditionally Republican strongholds like Georgia and Texas.
With the prospects of a historic Democratic landslide building with every Trump news conference, every deranged tweet, every racist remark, wouldn’t now be the time for Republican candidates to stand up, speak out and finally stop following a man so ill-equipped for the presidency?
To quote Trump himself, with control of Congress and the White House slipping away: “What the hell do they have to lose?”
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