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“Run That By Me Again?”: Sessions Claims Credibility On Hispanic, African-American Voters

Back in February, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) did something no other senator was willing to do at the time: the Alabama Republican endorsed Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. And now that the New York Republican is the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Sessions is helping lead the charge, urging others in the GOP to get in line.

The senator told Politico, in reference to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) skepticism, “[O]n some of these issues, Trump is where the Republicans are and if you’re going to be a Republican leader you should be supportive of that.”

And what about those in the party who believe Trump will struggle to win in November? Sessions told the far-right Daily Caller that those doubters don’t fully appreciate the breadth of Trump’s appeal.

[Sessions] is predicting presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will attract black and Hispanic voters in the general election.

“Donald Trump is going to do better with Hispanics and African Americans, I am convinced, because he’s talking about things that will really make their wages go up,” Sessions said during a recent interview in his Capitol Hill office with The Daily Caller.

The senator didn’t specify what “better” might entail – he presumably meant stronger support than Mitt Romney received in 2012 – but it almost certainly doesn’t matter. By basing so much of his campaign on racial animus, Trump has gone to extraordinary lengths to alienate voters from minority communities.

Romney won 27% of the Latino vote four years ago and 6% of the African-American vote. There is very little evidence to suggest Trump will “do better” than this performance in the fall.

But what struck me as especially interesting about this wasn’t just the message, but also the messenger.

As we discussed earlier in the year, the New Republic published a piece in 2002 on Sessions’ background, which included a stint as a U.S. Attorney, when his most notable prosecution targeted three civil rights workers, including a former aide to Martin Luther King Jr., on trumped up charges of voter fraud.

The piece added that Sessions, during his career in Alabama, called the NAACP “un-American” because, among other groups, it “forced civil rights down the throats of people.” A former career Justice Department official who worked with Sessions recalled an instance in which he referred to a white attorney as a “disgrace to his race” for litigating voting rights cases on behalf of African Americans. Sessions later acknowledged having made many of the controversial remarks attributed to him, but he claimed to have been joking.

What’s more, Thomas Figures, a former assistant U.S. Attorney in Alabama and an African American, later explained that during a 1981 murder investigation involving the Ku Klux Klan, Sessions was heard by several colleagues commenting that he “used to think they [the Klan] were OK” until he found out some of them were “pot smokers.” Sessions once again acknowledged making the remark, but once again claimed to have been kidding. Figures also remembered having heard Sessions call him “boy,” and once warned him to “be careful what you say to white folks.”

When the Reagan administration nominated Sessions for the federal bench in 1986, the Senate rejected him because of his controversial record on race.

But in 2016, Jeff Sessions is so “convinced” he has his finger on the pulse of the electorate that he’s willing to predict increased Hispanic and African-American support for the controversial Republican nominee.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 30, 2016

June 1, 2016 Posted by | African Americans, Donald Trump, Hispanics, Jeff Sessions | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Donald Trump’s Narcissistic Delusion”: Incapable Of Assessing His Candidacy Beyond A Dominant White Male Perspective

Donald Trump rose to the top of the pack of Republican presidential candidates with his inflammatory rhetoric about Mexican immigrants. It looks like Hispanic Americans haven’t forgotten about that.

Registration among Hispanic voters is skyrocketing in a presidential election cycle dominated by Donald Trump and loud GOP cries to close the border.

Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Elected and Appointed Officials, projects 13.1 million Hispanics will vote nationwide in 2016, compared to 11.2 million in 2012 and 9.7 million in 2008.

Many of those new Hispanic voters are also expected to vote against Trump if he is the Republican nominee, something that appears much more likely after the front-runner’s sweeping primary victories Tuesday in five East Coast states.

A whopping 80 percent of respondents in a poll of registered Hispanic voters in Colorado and Nevada said Trump’s views on immigration made them less likely to vote for Republicans in November. In Florida, that number was 68 percent.

Note that the 80% of registered Hispanics in those states said they are less likely to vote for Republicans…not just Donald Trump. So his rantings are not only affecting the presidential race, but could also have an impact down ballot.

As November looks likely to be a contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, there are whispers of a possible landslide election in the making. It is interesting to note that the Republican Party had a moment of sanity immediately following the 2012 election when they published the infamous “autopsy” suggesting the need to do better outreach – specifically with women and Hispanics. But Donald Trump is succeeding in the Republican primary precisely because he is so intent on alienating those two groups (among others).

There are those who expect that Trump will somehow “pivot” during the general election and increase his appeal beyond the angry white male Republicans who are the base of his support right now. What is important to keep in mind, however, is that Trump is incapable of assessing his candidacy beyond the frame of a dominant white male perspective. That’s why he continually suggests that women, Hispanics and African Americans “love” him despite reality. He won’t feel the need to pivot because he honestly thinks he’s already arrived. In other words, he is living in a delusional world that reinforces his narcissism.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 28, 2016

April 29, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hispanics, White Men | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Poetic Justice, A Big Beautiful Wall”: Will Latinos Wall Off Trump From The White House?

How’s this for poetic justice? Donald Trump’s favorite scapegoats could end up having the satisfaction of blocking him from the White House.

Latino voters have the potential to form a “big, beautiful wall” between Trump and his goal. If Trump gets the Republican nomination and Hispanics are provoked into voting in numbers that more nearly approach their percentage of the population — and if, as polls suggest, they vote overwhelmingly against Trump — it is hard to see how the bombastic billionaire could win.

Such an outcome would serve Trump right. Unfortunately for the GOP, it would also threaten to make Latinos a reliable and perhaps monolithic voting bloc for the Democratic Party, just as African Americans have been since the 1960s. If this were to happen, simple arithmetic would make it increasingly difficult for Republicans to win the White House.

In 2012, Mitt Romney won just 27 percent of the Latino vote; his policy of “self-deportation” for undocumented immigrants is believed to have contributed to this poor showing. After Romney’s defeat, a GOP postmortem called on the party to regain its footing with the nation’s largest minority group. “We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform,” the report said.

This never happened. A group of senators who became known as the Gang of Eight, including Marco Rubio, managed to win passage of a reform bill, but House Republicans refused even to consider the legislation. It seemed the immigration issue would once again be a liability for the GOP in the presidential contest.

Then along came Trump, who opened his campaign by charging that immigrants coming from Mexico were criminals and rapists — and promising to build a wall along the border to keep them out. As for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already here, Trump’s solution is not self-deportation but rather forced deportation: He pledges to round them all up and send them home.

Trump may be all over the map on a host of issues, but xenophobic opposition to Latino immigration has been his North Star. He invites supporters to see their nation under siege from Latinos who allegedly take away jobs, commit crimes and alter traditional American culture. Last year, he criticized campaign rival Jeb Bush — whose wife is from Mexico — for speaking Spanish at a rally. “He should really set the example by speaking English while in the United States,” Trump said.

Trump’s chauvinism has been winning approval among the mostly white, working-class voters who form the core of his support. But there are signs that he may also be animating Latinos — to come out and vote against him.

A poll last month by The Post and Univision showed that just 16 percent of Latino voters had a favorable view of Trump, as opposed to 80 percent who view him unfavorably. The remaining GOP candidates — Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich — all do considerably better. But no Republican does nearly as well as Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, both of whom are seen favorably by healthy majorities.

In a hypothetical matchup, according to the poll, Clinton would beat Trump among Latino voters by 73 percent to 16 percent. Assuming those who had no opinion went equally for the two candidates, Clinton’s share of the Latino vote would approach 80 percent. Swing states with large Hispanic populations such as Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado would effectively be off the table for the GOP.

Moreover, the sheer number of Latino voters will almost surely increase across the nation. According to the Pew Research Center, the 23.3 million Hispanics who were eligible to vote in 2012 will have grown to 27.3 million by Election Day, mostly from young citizens who turn 18. The specter of a Trump presidency is giving urgency to widespread voter-registration drives.

Trump’s claim that he “won” among Hispanic voters in Nevada is based on entrance polling at the party caucuses, but the sample was so small as to be virtually meaningless. More pertinent is that more than twice as many Hispanics participated in the Democratic caucuses as in the Republican ones.

Assuming Trump wins the nomination, where does this leave him? If Latinos come out to vote against him in greater-than-usual numbers, he would have to win what looks like an impossibly high percentage of the white vote to be competitive. Even if the Latino vote just grows proportionally with population, he would have a hard time winning states that GOP presidential candidates can’t afford to lose.

He may wish he could say “I’m sorry” in Spanish.

 

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, March 7, 2016

March 8, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Hispanics, Latinos | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“How Donald Trump Broke Jeb Bush”: Political Jujutsu; Turning An Asset Into An Albatross

In jujutsu, one uses an opponent’s weight against him. And, in the version most often seen in politics, a candidate turns his opponent’s strength into a weakness. In political jujutsu, assets can become liabilities.

In 1992, Bill Clinton faced off against George H.W. Bush. The latter had been a congressman, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, special envoy to China, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Vice President of the United States. By contrast, Clinton was governor of the 32nd-largest state—Arkansas.

If that election had boiled down to résumés, Bush would have walked off with it. But the Clinton War Room created a new narrative that revolved around youth, energy, fresh ideas. They made Bush’s experience a liability instead of an asset.

Now, in 2015, Donald Trump has employed the same strategy against Jeb Bush, and quite effectively at that. In most polls, Bush seems cemented in fifth place—behind Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz.

In the lead-up to the 2016 election, one of Bush’s major strengths was thought to be his strong appeal to Hispanic voters. Republicans were still smarting from Mitt Romney’s decisive defeat in 2012 at the hands of an incumbent president who enjoyed a wide margin of support from Hispanics. Romney did horribly with those voters.

Hispanics have a disproportional importance to the political process for three reasons—youth, unpredictability, and location. First, they’re younger than most other groups of voters; Hispanics have a median age of 27, compared to 37 for the overall U.S. population. So they’ll be around for a while.

Next, while the majority of Hispanics are registered Democrats, they have shown a willingness to cross party lines to support moderate Republicans. George W. Bush is the prime example, winning 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004.

And lastly, they represent a significant presence in three “purple” battleground states: Colorado, Florida, and Nevada.

As Republicans proceeded to do an autopsy on Romney’s defeat, two different schools of thought emerged. Either the GOP nominee came up short because he hadn’t inspired enough white conservatives to come out, or because he had done such a poor job of reaching out to those voters who don’t typically vote Republican—especially Hispanics.

For those in the first school, the problem was that the party had nominated the wrong person. A more dependable conservative, they reasoned, could have done a better job of bringing out the GOP base.

Those in the second school agreed that the GOP needed to get behind a different sort of candidate in 2016. But, for them, the problem wasn’t that Romney didn’t excite the base but that he did nothing to widen it.

That’s the view of former White House political adviser and GOP strategist Karl Rove, who during a recent appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe shot down the idea that there was some “magical cache of conservative voters” that could save the day in 2016. Instead, he argued, the emphasis for Republicans should be on peeling off voters that traditionally vote Democratic.

Asked if Donald Trump could win the general election, Rove said, “My view is no, but we’ll see.” Asked to explain why not, he referred back to the party’s nominee in 2012.

“If Mitt Romney lost with 27 percent among Latinos,” Rove said, “how good would someone do when he’s got an 11 percent approval rating among Latinos?”

Rove and Co. decided early on in the prep for 2016 what was needed was a Republican with a proven track record of appealing to Hispanic voters, getting them out of their Democratic comfort zone, and showing them enough respect that they actually consider voting for the Republican nominee for president.

That candidate was supposed to be Jeb Bush, who had all the ingredients of being the most Hispanic-friendly Republican candidate in history. Bush speaks fluent Spanish, has a Mexican-born wife, spouts moderate views on immigration, and won more than 50 percent of the Hispanic vote in each of his Florida gubernatorial races in 1998 and 2002.

Bush was supposed to be the peacemaker who mended fences with Hispanics, and reassured them that Romney’s cold shoulder notwithstanding, they were indeed welcome in the Republican Party. Mi casa es su casa.

But with a series of deft maneuvers, and a little political jujutsu, Trump managed to turn Bush’s asset into a liability that essentially took him out of the race.

When Bush described as “an act of love” the concept of a Mexican immigrant traveling north to the United States—even without proper documents—in order to reunite with family members or to support a family back home, or when Bush spoke to Hispanic crowds in Spanish and fielded questions from Spanish-language media in the same language, or when Bush told an audience in New Hampshire that he had a “grown up plan” to deal with immigration that combined border security with earned legal status for the undocumented, Trump pounced. And pounced. And pounced some more. In tweets, speeches, and jabs, Trump has learned to effectively use Bush’s own words against him.

On one occasion, the weapon wasn’t Bush’s choice of words but something much more personal: His choice of a life partner.

In July, Trump advanced the theory that Jeb’s moderate views on immigration stem from the fact that his wife, Colomba, was born in Mexico. It started with a tweet created by a third party, but retweeted by Trump’s account, which asserted: “Jeb Bush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife.” The tweet was later deleted. Colomba Bush came to the United States legally, and eventually became a U.S. citizen.

During an interview on CNN’s AC360, Trump was asked by Anderson Cooper if he authorized the retweet. He said he didn’t, but also that he didn’t regret that the retweet went out from his account. Then, in so many words, he restated the accusation.

“I don’t regret it,” Trump said. “I mean, look, I would say that he would. If my wife were from Mexico, I think I would have a soft spot for people from Mexico. I can understand that.”

Understand this. All these things—that Bush speaks Spanish, supports legal status for the undocumented, married a woman from Mexico—feed the narrative that Trump has pushed to working-class whites since he first began attacking the establishment’s candidate: “Bush isn’t for you. He’s for the Mexicans.”

It’s not unlike the accusations from some on the right wing in 2008 that Barack Obama, if elected, would be a president for African Americans but no one else.

As a Mexican-American, I knew this day would come—when someone who spoke Spanish and had moderate views on immigration would be accused of being too close to “the Mexicans.” But I never imagined the accusation would be hurled at a white guy.

Using political jujutsu, Trump will probably keep Bush out the top tier of GOP presidential candidates until that moment when Bush drops out of the race altogether.

And that’s a real shame. Bush isn’t the perfect candidate, but he’s a serious person who could step into the role of president on Day 1. He could also move his party forward on immigration and help make things right with a group of voters who Republicans can’t afford to write off. Besides, by all accounts, he’s a good man. That can’t be said of his chief nemesis. What Trump did to Bush was evil. Brilliant, but evil.

 

By: Ruben Navarrettte, Jr., The Daily Beast, November 30, 2015

December 1, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hispanics, Jeb Bush, Latinos | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Libre Initiative”: The Koch Brothers Are Spending Big Bucks To Win Over Latinos. Here’s Why It Probably Won’t Work

The Koch brothers are sinking big money into an expanding effort to win over Latino voters in the 2016 cycle with a simple message: Don’t go with the party that will make you reliant on government. Vote Republican instead.Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But it’s intended to make a broader point that I hope to illustrate below.

Ashley Parker of the New York Times reports that the conservative billionaire Kochs are helping to bankroll a multi-million-dollar effort to reach out to Latino voters, called the Libre Initiative, that is meant to fill a vacuum left by the Republican Party, which the group thinks has failed miserably in this outreach mission. The Times sums up the group’s message this way: “economic freedom and smaller-government principles will yield opportunity and prosperity.”

The Libre Initiative, which is wooing Latino voters in part by giving them Thanksgiving turkeys and an array of community services, seems to be evolving into a substantial presence. The Times reports that it has as many as 70 employees in nine swing states, is funded in part by an organization of Koch network donors, and is expected to spend over $9 million in this cycle.

The group supports comprehensive immigration reform, putting it at odds with the overall posture of the Republican Party, not to mention the GOP presidential candidates, who have lurched so far to the right on immigration that the RNC’s 2012 autopsy counseling a more welcoming posture towards Latinos is nothing but a dim, distant memory. However, suggests the Times, support for immigration reform might not be enough to win over Latinos, who could be alienated by the group’s — and the GOP’s — position on the Affordable Care Act and other issues:

The group has also drawn the ire of some Hispanic and immigration advocacy groups by raising concerns about some of President Obama’s more sweeping executive actions on immigration, and by pouring money into House races to help defeat two Hispanic lawmakers — Pete P. Gallego of Texas and Joe Garcia of Florida, both Democrats — because they supported the president’s health care plan, among other issues Libre opposes.

But the group, in providing services to Latinos, hopes to get them to abandon their support for the Democratic Party by persuading them to embrace a limited government vision instead:

These community services speak to what the group says is its core mission — to provide Hispanics with the tools to lift themselves toward the American dream of economic freedom and success, while also showing them that they do not need to rely on the government to succeed.

“At the end of the day, we want Hispanics to prosper, to be self-reliant, to achieve their full potential,” said Ivette Fernandez, national director of the Libre Institute, which is running a pilot program to help people study for and pass G.E.D. exams. “So we felt it was very important to be able to educate them on those principles the country is based on.”

The trouble with all this is that Latinos tend to support the overall Democratic governing vision — and not the Republican one — when it comes to economic issues and health care, too.

A major survey of 1,400 Hispanic voters conducted last spring by Bendixen & Amandi International with the Tarrance Group found:

— 56 percent of Hispanics polled said the Democratic Party is more in line with their views on economic policy and job creation. Only 22 percent said that of the GOP.

— 64 percent of Hispanics polled viewed Obama favorably, and 59 percent said they were satisfied with his presidency.

— Only 36 percent of Hispanics polled viewed the GOP favorably. By contrast, 68 percent viewed the Democratic Party favorably.

What’s more, the Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll has consistently found that a majority of Hispanics view the Affordable Care Act favorably. While there may be a downswing right now in favorable Latino views of the ACA, previous downswings have been regularly followed by subsequent upswings. The point is that Latinos have consistently viewed the health law more favorably than the overall American public has — for years now.

This has historically proven frustrating for Republicans. After the 2012 election, Mitt Romney complained that Barack Obama had beaten him in part with “free” government giveaways to core constituencies, including “free health care” to Hispanics in the form of Obamacare, as if Dem policies are little more than dependence-fostering government handouts designed to buy voter loyalty. Romney had used similar “free stuff” rhetoric during the campaign, and ended up performing abysmally among Latino voters.

If the Koch-funded group’s core message is that Democratic economic and health care policies produce an over-reliance on government — whereas scaling back government and unleashing the power of free enterprise are the only true solutions to maximizing opportunity and self-realization for Latinos — it would not be surprising if many of them end up rejecting its fundamental animating principles this time around, too.

 

By: Greg Sargent, The Plum Line, The Washington Post, November 27, 2015

November 28, 2015 Posted by | Hispanics, Koch Brothers, Latinos | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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