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Trump Leans on Race Issue for 2020     07/18 06:46

   President Donald Trump has placed racial animus at the center of his 
reelection campaign, and even some of his critics believe it could deliver him 
a second term.

   NEW YORK (AP) -- President Donald Trump has placed racial animus at the 
center of his reelection campaign, and even some of his critics believe it 
could deliver him a second term.

   Every successful modern presidential campaign has been built on the notion 
of addition, winning over voters beyond core supporters. But Trump has chosen 
division on the belief that the polarized country he leads will simply choose 
sides over issues like race.

   He intensified his attacks on Wednesday, blasting four young congresswomen 
of color during a rally in Greenville, North Carolina . The crowd responded by 
chanting, "Send her back!" echoing Trump's weekend tweet in which he said the 
lawmakers, all American citizens, should "go back" to the countries from which 
they came.

   "I do think I am winning the political fight," Trump declared at the White 
House. "I think I am winning it by a lot."

   Not since George Wallace's campaign in 1968 has a presidential candidate --- 
and certainly not an incumbent president --- put racial polarization at the 
center of his call to voters. Though Trump's comments generated outrage and 
even a resolution of condemnation in the House, the president and his campaign 
believe the strategy carries far more benefits than risks.

   "Regardless of whether his tweets are racist or not --- I'm not saying they 
are or not --- he is getting the media to make these extremely liberal, 
socialist, foolish congresswomen the face of the Democratic Party," said Terry 
Sullivan, a frequent Trump critic who managed Sen. Marco Rubio's 2016 
Republican presidential campaign. "What he's doing here is sad, but it's smart 
politics."

   Still, there are clear perils to his approach.

   Educated suburban voters, especially college-educated women, and minorities 
in key states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin were already 
threatening to revolt against the Republican president. Trump believes his 
inflammatory rhetoric will strengthen his support among the white working class 
and attract a new group of disaffected voters who fear cultural changes across 
America.

   That approach is likely to face significant headwinds in those three key 
battleground states that he won by a combined 78,000 votes in 2016. Democrats 
will be far more aggressive in targeting female and minority voters. Most 
analysts agree that the potential universe of Democratic-leaning voters is 
larger, if they turn out. Trump is betting they will not.

   The president has proved adroit at crafting a hero-villain narrative and is 
now focusing on Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of 
Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan 
rather than a Democratic presidential candidate. His challenge will be whether 
he can drive that story line successfully for the next 16 months.

   Trump told aides this week that the controversy has cemented the four 
progressive lawmakers as the faces of the Democratic Party, believing it has 
boosted his chances at reelection. Far from backing away from the comments, he 
and his party are now casting the minority Democratic congresswomen as the real 
racists.

   "They are now the top, most visible members of the House Democrats, who are 
now wedded to this bitterness and hate," Trump boasted on Twitter.

   Trump aides and allies acknowledge that many voters may find the president's 
comments objectionable, but for the voters they need in 2020, it may actually 
be an energizing force.

   Those who already believe Trump is a racist and unfit for the presidency 
won't vote for him in the first place. For voters in the middle, Trump's team 
believes they can be sufficiently scared off the progressive agenda to cast 
votes for Trump --- or at worst, stay home in dispiritedness that neither party 
speaks to their issues. And for many others who didn't vote at all in 2016, 
there is hope that his dramatic presidency, backed by fear of Democrats' 
leftward lurch, will persuade them to show up at the ballot box.

   Trump's allies say they think many voters, both Republican and Democratic, 
are cool to the "woke culture" of 2019, just as they were to the focus on 
political correctness in 2016.

   The Pew Research Center found in May that 8 in 10 Republicans feel too many 
people are easily offended over language today. About 4 in 10 Democrats said 
the same.

   "The president wasn't afraid to wade into these culture wars and he's not 
afraid to do so again. He'll stand up for our flag and against open borders. 
Patriotism will always win," said Kelly Sadler, a spokeswoman for the pro-Trump 
super PAC America First Policies. The group plans to spend millions over the 
coming year on registering likely Trump voters across six swing states.

   Veering sharply away from the inclusive tone GOP leaders called for in 2012, 
groups charged with electing Republicans up and down the ballot in 2020 have 
embraced Trump's fiery style and message, which has long relied on demonizing 
immigrants and minorities.

   Some voters may be responding.

   The share of Americans who say the country's openness to people from around 
the world is "essential to who we are as a nation" is shrinking, according to a 
new Pew poll.

   The poll found that 62% of Americans see openness to others around the world 
as essential, a number that is down 6 percentage points over the last 10 
months. Nearly 6 in 10 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said 
that if the United States is too open to people from around the world, "we risk 
losing our identity as a nation."  Pollsters in both parties said that white 
working-class voters in particular feel left behind by the Democratic Party's 
focus on racial and gender equality. Trump's hard-line position on race and 
immigration has alienated many minority voters.

   Republican pollsters suggest the president's real challenge will be in 
America's suburbs, where college-educated women veered sharply away from 
Trump's party in the 2018 midterms, giving Democrats the House majority.

   "He went with racism and divisiveness before 2018 and lost 40 House seats 
--- including in the Midwest," said Josh Schwerin, senior strategist for 
Priorities USA, the biggest super PAC in Democratic politics. "He has tried 
this. The country doesn't want to be more divided."


(CZ)

 
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