Starkville Daily News - - FO­RUM -

Na­tional Com­mit­tee chair, blamed a se­ries of anti-il­le­gal-im­mi­gra­tion ads for Kil­gore's de­feat. But with the siren call of Trump­ists beck­on­ing, Gille­spie sailed to de­feat on even more egre­gious ads than Kil­gore's.

Pres­i­dent Trump quickly blamed Gille­spie's loss on the can­di­date's fail­ure "to em­brace (Trump) or what (Trump stands) for." It's true Gille­spie didn't cam­paign with Trump, but the pres­i­dent lost the state in 2016, and he is less pop­u­lar to­day than he was a year ago. If any­thing, Gille­spie lost be­cause he tried to morph into Trump, not run away from the pres­i­dent's toxic brand of pol­i­tics. It should be a les­son to Re­pub­li­can can­di­dates around the coun­try, par­tic­u­larly those — and there are many — who don't share the pres­i­dent's views on race and im­mi­gra­tion.

Amer­ica is not a racist coun­try, and ap­peals to racism turn off far more vot­ers than they ap­peal to. Amer­i­cans were hor­ri­fied by what hap­pened in Char­lottesville this sum­mer, with white na­tion­al­ists shout­ing "Jews will not re­place us" as they marched through the city to op­pose the re­moval of Con­fed­er­ate stat­ues on pub­lic grounds, with one young woman killed when a self-de­scribed neo-Nazi ran his car into the crowd. Nor is anti-im­mi­gra­tion fer­vor gripping the coun­try. Exit polls in Vir­ginia show that the No. 1 is­sue on vot­ers' minds was health care. Im­mi­gra­tion was the top vot­ing is­sue for only about 12 per­cent of Vir­gini­ans, rank­ing be­low all oth­ers ex­cept abor­tion. And while im­mi­grants have changed the face of Vir­ginia over the last 20 years, with about 1 in 8 res­i­dents now for­eign-born, those im­mi­grants have helped re­vi­tal­ize Vir­ginia's econ­omy and are neigh­bors, co-work­ers, friends and fam­ily to many na­tive­born vot­ers — not to men­tion that im­mi­grants who have nat­u­ral­ized vote, too.

If Re­pub­li­cans hope to re­tain con­trol of Con­gress in next year's elec­tion, they had bet­ter fig­ure out a bet­ter strat­egy than Ed Gille­spie's. Given the pres­i­dent's un­pop­u­lar­ity — he's the least-pop­u­lar pres­i­dent one year af­ter his elec­tion than any pres­i­dent since polling be­gan, with less than 40 per­cent ap­proval — Trump­ism isn't a win­ning mes­sage. Amer­i­cans are fed up with hate and scape­goat­ing, es­pe­cially when it is ac­com­pa­nied by in­com­pe­tence and the fail­ure to get any mean­ing­ful leg­is­la­tion through Con­gress. If Re­pub­li­cans learned any­thing Tues­day night, it should be that Trump doesn't help the GOP; and when the GOP loses, he's quick to dis­as­so­ci­ate him­self from the party and its can­di­dates. With friends like Don­ald Trump, who needs en­e­mies?

Linda Chavez is the author of "An Un­likely Con­ser­va­tive: The Trans­for­ma­tion of an Ex-Lib­eral." To find out more about Linda Chavez, visit the Cre­ators Syn­di­cate web­page at www.cre­

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