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GOP congressman defends Trump's ad

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) defends President Trump's proposal to enable stronger borders ahead of the midterm elections.

Posted: Nov 5, 2018 8:47 AM
Updated: Nov 5, 2018 9:07 AM

"It's the economy, stupid." That famous phrase, coined by James Carville, one of Bill Clinton's strategists, was Clinton's guiding principle in his 1992 campaign to unseat President George H.W. Bush. This slogan reminded Clinton that the best way to win that election was to talk about the economy, since that issue moved voters. And it worked.

Flash forward to the 2018 midterm election and Donald Trump's guiding principle can be best summed up as, "It's the racism, stupid." Trump is playing on his supporters' worst fears of brown immigrants to scare them to the polls. And to be clear, talking about immigration policy isn't inherently racist, but fabricating lies to gin up fears of Latino immigrants is -- and that's exactly what Trump is doing.

For example, for the past few weeks, Trump has been ratcheting up the hysteria about the caravan of migrants who are making their way north from Latin America in search of a better life. Trump has dubbed this caravan an "invasion of our country" that's filled with "Gang Members and some very bad people." In reality, there's little evidence to support that the caravan is filled with dangerous people.

Just days ago, Trump said he could order up to 15,000 US troops to the border, making it seem like the caravan was rapidly approaching. He conveniently has left out that the caravan is nearly 1,000 miles from the US border and won't arrive for weeks.

And, on Wednesday, Trump released a video featuring an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who killed two US police officers. In the video, he blames the Democrats for this man's crimes. The ad has rightly been slammed as racist. Fact checkers have also pointed out that it was full of lies, such as the claim the killer entered the country under a Democratic administration when, in fact, he last entered the United States under the George W. Bush administration.

Many ask why Trump isn't focused on the economy given the solid economic numbers. Trump addressed that very issue Friday at his rally in West Virginia, saying: "They all say, 'Speak about the economy, speak about the economy." Adding, "Well, we have the greatest economy in the history of our country. But sometimes it's not as exciting to talk about the economy."

In reality, the economy isn't boring to Trump. This is a guy who loves to brag about positive economic numbers, as he did on Twitter on Friday and again on Saturday. In July, Trump even held a press conference to tout the quarterly GDP report that had just been released, declaring that it was "amazing" and "historic."

The real reason Trump is not focused on the economy is because he knows his base very well and gets two big things about them. First, economically speaking, they're unlikely doing much better -- if at all -- since he took office. And two, fearmongering about immigrants energizes them.

Now if Trump were giving a speech to his wealthy friends at his exclusive country club, there's little doubt he'd focus on economic numbers, because the rich have greatly benefited from the Trump and GOP tax cut. But it's a different story for working-class Americans. Almost two-thirds of Americans say they haven't seen any increase in wages as a result of the GOP tax cut. And when you factor in rising inflation, workers have only seen wages rise a paltry 0.8% in the past year. Gas prices alone have climbed over 30% since 2017, which can take a real bite out of working- and middle-class spending power.

How can Trump try to energize voters by telling them the economy is great when they don't have more money to spend? Trump gets that, so he's reverting back to playing on white anxieties regarding the browning of America -- which I like to refer to as racism. Or, for those who prefer the more academic term, fear of losing status.

But Trump didn't need an academic study to tell him that many supported him in 2016 because they felt "a threat to their group's dominance in our country over all," as one political science professor explained it to the New York Times.

That's why Trump's policies are largely designed to keep America white -- from his proposal to build a wall to clamping down on legal immigration (ending "chain migration") and even his early call for a total and complete Muslim ban, which likely helped him win the election. In fact, Trump tried to combine both anti-Latino racism with anti-Muslim bigotry last week when he claimed that there were "Middle Easterners" in the caravan, though he later acknowledged there was no evidence to support that.

And Trump's racist appeal appears to be working, as new CNN polls show that GOP voters are increasingly ranking immigration as the top issue. For example, in Arizona, 50% of GOP likely voters say immigration is the most important issue, up from 35% in September.

The big question is will Trump's appeal to racism excite enough people to vote Republican come Election Day? If it does, unfortunately for America, that means we can expect Trump to double and even triple down on using racism in the 2020 election.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 327477

Reported Deaths: 3751
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin688981130
Ramsey28948512
Anoka23196232
Dakota23102194
Washington14590120
Stearns14314121
St. Louis9280117
Scott881056
Wright827145
Olmsted702536
Sherburne608243
Clay521359
Carver501315
Kandiyohi432024
Rice427738
Blue Earth426617
Crow Wing376237
Otter Tail332725
Chisago326914
Benton317253
Nobles313731
Winona292031
Douglas278439
Mower270623
Polk266226
Morrison241730
Lyon228712
Beltrami227518
McLeod226517
Becker217619
Goodhue216930
Steele20568
Itasca202223
Isanti199517
Carlton198417
Todd187414
Nicollet169426
Mille Lacs161231
Freeborn15966
Le Sueur153511
Brown151015
Cass149910
Pine14298
Waseca141811
Meeker139011
Roseau12475
Martin121221
Hubbard117728
Wabasha11041
Redwood101720
Chippewa9508
Cottonwood9284
Renville92729
Dodge9110
Watonwan8824
Wadena8537
Sibley8194
Rock8019
Aitkin79530
Houston7694
Fillmore7480
Pipestone74718
Kanabec67714
Yellow Medicine67612
Pennington6758
Swift6149
Murray6064
Faribault5902
Pope5641
Clearwater5389
Stevens5333
Marshall5289
Jackson5181
Lake4437
Wilkin4115
Koochiching4106
Lac qui Parle3984
Unassigned38259
Lincoln3721
Norman3638
Big Stone3332
Mahnomen3164
Grant2956
Kittson2408
Red Lake2283
Traverse1521
Lake of the Woods1021
Cook790

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 234817

Reported Deaths: 2486
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk34631341
Linn14655168
Scott1166189
Black Hawk11194139
Woodbury10622133
Johnson979337
Dubuque941594
Story698323
Pottawattamie664871
Dallas657159
Sioux380529
Webster371639
Cerro Gordo367649
Marshall357647
Clinton341444
Buena Vista313114
Des Moines298621
Muscatine298271
Warren291714
Plymouth284444
Wapello263772
Jones235917
Jasper229746
Lee225617
Marion210222
Carroll203624
Bremer200212
Henry19137
Crawford181016
Benton174023
Tama156641
Washington149715
Jackson148814
Delaware147021
Dickinson143811
Boone142412
Mahaska133328
Wright13007
Clay12254
Buchanan122010
Hardin121011
Hamilton117713
Page11664
Kossuth11608
Clayton11399
Cedar112513
Harrison110832
Floyd110219
Calhoun10907
Fayette108712
Mills10858
Lyon10619
Butler10576
Winneshiek102713
Poweshiek102013
Iowa100213
Winnebago94825
Cherokee9474
Chickasaw9084
Hancock9008
Sac8978
Louisa89321
Grundy88911
Allamakee87013
Mitchell8369
Cass83524
Union8166
Appanoose80713
Humboldt8015
Shelby79511
Emmet78626
Guthrie77115
Franklin76021
Jefferson7512
Madison7174
Unassigned7050
Palo Alto6734
Keokuk6477
Pocahontas5984
Howard5809
Osceola5411
Greene5401
Ida53013
Clarke5004
Montgomery49311
Davis4819
Taylor4773
Monona4516
Monroe45113
Adair4489
Worth3820
Van Buren3755
Fremont3743
Lucas3376
Decatur3290
Wayne3077
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Ringgold2382
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