As his fellow Republican Presidential candidates struggle on how to respond, Donald Trump’s racist comments about Mexicans continue to reinforce the party’s xenophobic brand among Latinos and immigrants.
And while voters nationally disapprove of both Trump and his remarks, GOP primary voters absolutely love him and the rhetoric — and this could spell huge trouble for the Republican Party as it struggles with minority outreach as the 2016 election approaches.
In a must-read New York Times op-ed, “Trump Builds One Brand and Damages Another,” Charles Blow sums up the GOP’s Trump dilemma as a Frankenstein of their own doing:
Donald Trump is exactly what the Republican Party deserves.
The Republican Party has nurtured anti-immigrant, xenophobic nastiness for years, but it has tried to do so, at least at the national level, in language that disguised it as a simple issue of law and order.
Trump has blown all that to bits.
Some in the party are claiming Trump doesn’t represent the GOP. But as Trump has doubled-down on his nativism, he’s surged in national polls to first place, beating out more moderate Republicans:
On Sunday, Senator Lindsey Graham, another of the gaggle of Republican presidential candidates, said of Trump on CNN:
“I think he’s hijacked the debate. I think he’s a wrecking ball for the future of the Republican Party with the Hispanic community and we need to push back.”
But the Republican Party isn’t innocent here. Trump isn’t imposing a poisonous view of Hispanics; he’s voicing it. And he’s voicing it in precisely the blunt and noxious terms that a sizable portion of the party feels it and in which they want to hear it discussed.
While some Republicans have sought to distance themselves from Trump, if not completely condemn him, the terrain of those responses has been wobbly. This allows all the more weight to Hillary Clinton’s charge that Republican candidates are “on a spectrum of hostility” when it comes to immigrants.
But there are also Republicans who outright applaud Trump. As Senator Ted Cruz, another Republican presidential candidate, put it:
“When it comes to Donald Trump, I like Donald Trump. I think he’s terrific. I think he’s brash. I think he speaks the truth.”
As long as portions of the Republican Party laud the divisive, fact-challenged Trump as a terrific truth-teller, the party’s brand will continue to sustain incalculable damage, particularly among the vital immigrant population.
There is no need for anyone to have one ounce of sympathy for the G.O.P. Its chicken has come home to roost.
It’s been two years since RNC Chair Reince Preibus released the GOP’s “autopsy report” following Mitt Romney’s defeat at the hands of Latino, Asian, and immigrant voters. But rather than follow through on immigration reform, as Preibus stated in the report, Republicans are now forced to deal with the nativism-on-steroids that has brewed over because of their own doing.
What a place to be in right now.