Trump stick­ing to ‘us vs. them’ in out­reach

BLACKS, WOMEN PITTED AGAINST MI­GRANTS Many mi­nor­ity vot­ers skeptical of bid to widen ap­peal

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY JOSE A. DELREAL

Im­mi­grants and refugees are tak­ing jobs from black work­ers. Un­doc­u­mented crim­i­nals prey on Amer­i­can women. Mus­lims pose a threat to gay men and les­bians.

For Don­ald Trump, ap­peal­ing to mi­nor­ity groups and women of­ten amounts to an “us vs. them” propo­si­tion — warn­ing one group that it is be­ing threat­ened or vic­tim­ized by an­other, us­ing ex­ag­ger­ated con­trasts and a very broad brush.

“Poor His­pan­ics and African Amer­i­can cit­i­zens are the first to lose a job or see a pay cut when we don’t con­trol our bor­ders,” the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date said at a rally last week in Akron, Ohio, adding that blacks in par­tic­u­lar should vote for him be­cause their lives are so ter­ri­ble. “What do you have to lose?” he said. “You’ll be able to walk down the street with­out get­ting shot. Right now, you walk down the street, you get shot.”

From the start of his cam­paign, Trump has shaped his mes­sage around who is to blame for the na­tion’s prob­lems — of­ten point­ing at il­le­gal im­mi­grants, Black Lives Mat­ter ac­tivists and other mi­nori­ties in a pitch that was aimed pri­mar­ily at white Repub­li­cans.

But now, as Trump seeks to reach out to women and mi­nori­ties who fa­vor Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton, he has in­creas­ingly taken to pit­ting one group against an­other in a bid for sup­port. It’s not clear how well it

will work: Many mi­nor­ity vot­ers, al­ready turned off by months of blunt and po­lar­iz­ing state­ments, still hear the lan­guage of sepa­ra­tion in Trump’s words.

“Look, I just think a lot of his views are very ig­no­rant,” Crys­tal Woods-Brookes, who is black, said as she folded clothes at a laun­dro­mat a few miles south of Trump’s Akron rally. “This is not our coun­try, in his words. ... I be­lieve that’s his whole pur­pose, to di­vide, to put us . . . against each other, make one be­lieve the other side is bet­ter.

“I be­lieve now he’s try­ing to change be­cause — it’s not about black peo­ple, it’s about the votes,” she added. “He’s al­ready made his point quite clear, as far as I’m con­cerned.”

The real es­tate de­vel­oper and his team in­sist that he wants to be an “in­clu­sive” pres­i­dent, and he is in the midst of an out­reach ef­fort that in­cludes a new stump speech and meet­ings with blacks, Lati­nos and other groups. He also has en­gaged in a war of words with Clin­ton over racial is­sues, re­peat­edly call­ing her “a bigot” be­cause he says her poli­cies have not helped mi­nori­ties.

Amid crit­i­cism for court­ing mi­nor­ity vot­ers while speak­ing to over­whelm­ingly white au­di­ences, Trump will hold a ques­tion-an­dan­swer ses­sion Satur­day at Great Faith Min­istries In­ter­na­tional in Detroit, which has a pri­mar­ily black con­gre­ga­tion. It will be the first of many such events at black and Latino com­mu­nity cen­ters, ac­cord­ing to the cam­paign.

For many of Trump’s sup­port­ers — in­clud­ing some mi­nori­ties fear­ful of na­tional se­cu­rity threats — Trump’s rhetoric on im­mi­gra­tion is more about fac­ing up to the grim re­al­i­ties of a dan­ger­ous world, even if that means say­ing un­com­fort­able things about Mus­lims.

Ale­jan­dro Lugo, who moved to Mi­ami more than 20 years ago af­ter liv­ing in Cuba for 30 years, said out­side a re­cent cam­paign event in Fort Laud­erdale, Fla., that he’s con­cerned that the United States is not vet­ting new im­mi­grants suf­fi­ciently. He also re­jected any com­par­i­son be­tween Cuban refugees and Syr­ian refugees seek­ing to es­cape the Is­lamic State.

“The Cubans that came were run­ning away from Cas­tro. They set­tled in Mi­ami, they worked. But we did not use an 18-wheeler truck to kill 150 Amer­i­cans. And the Mus­lims, they do that. Cubans don’t do that,” Lugo said. “If the Cubans come from Cuba and they start killing Amer­i­can peo­ple, they have to be vet­ted. If you have con­nec­tions with al-Qaeda and you come here to kill my fam­ily, I don’t want you in this na­tion.”

For the most part, though, Trump’s mes­sage has not res­onated with mi­nori­ties or women, who strongly fa­vor Clin­ton in opin­ion polls. Most also think Trump is bi­ased against those groups, polls show.

The Rev. Wil­liam Bar­ber II, the pres­i­dent of the North Carolina NAACP, said in a re­cent in­ter­view that he ob­jects to Trump’s re­duc­tive view of the black com­mu­nity: that all African Amer­i­cans live in poverty, that their com­mu­ni­ties are the sources of crime and that they have been fooled into vot­ing for Democrats.

“You’re say­ing, ‘ All black peo­ple. . . . They’re all lazy, they’re all poor,’ ” he said. “It fits that racial­ized nar­ra­tive that crime is a par­tic­u­lar com­mu­nity’s prob­lem rather than crime be­ing a re­al­ity in the Amer­i­can con­struct.”

Af­ter Trump cited the “op­pres­sion of women and gays in many Mus­lim na­tions” in June to sup- port his call to tem­po­rar­ily ban Mid­dle Eastern im­mi­grants from en­ter­ing the coun­try, LGBT lead­ers ac­cused Trump of fear-mon­ger­ing af­ter a mas­sacre at a gay night­club in Or­lando — and of sug­gest­ing that there are no gay Mus­lim im­mi­grants.

Women’s groups and ac­tivists also have blasted Trump for sug­gest­ing that im­mi­grants are a dis­pro­por­tion­ate threat to women, a rhetor­i­cal ap­peal they say is in­tended to di­vide com­mu­ni­ties among racial lines.

“This is the cul­mi­na­tion of all the dif­fer­ent ways in which he has painted groups with a very broad brush,” said Marcy Stech, vice pres­i­dent of com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Emily’s List. “Ev­ery week he has shown us this side of him, ex­pos­ing his racist and misog­y­nis­tic world­view. And any at­tempt to erase those mo­ments now is just not go­ing to work.”

José Tor­res, 54, a com­puter pro­gram­mer who works at the Or­lando air­port, said he was un­fazed by Trump’s new pitch to African Amer­i­cans and Lati­nos and his po­ten­tial “soft­en­ing” on whether he would seek mass de­por­ta­tion of 11 mil­lion un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants.

“Hon­estly, the guy as I see him is good at earn­ing money, but as a politi­cian, he’s got rad­i­cal ideas and I’m not in agree­ment with him. I think he’s very racist, also,” Tor­res said. “It’ll cause dis­unity in the coun­try.”

Jeremiah Arm­strong, 33, of Akron said Trump’s new mes­sage to black vot­ers sug­gests a com­pe­ti­tion be­tween vot­ers where it re­ally doesn’t ex­ist. Arm­strong, a self­em­ployed bar­ber, said the no­tion that im­mi­grants are tak­ing jobs away from other mi­nori­ties in the United States does not match with his ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Let me ask you a ques­tion: How many black farm work­ers do you know? Where around here can you find some­one where a His­panic has come and taken a job?” Arm­strong said. “We don’t ac­cept those jobs any­way. I’ve never been of­fered one and I’ve never had one taken away from me, so I don’t think that’s the is­sue.”

Trump’s tough law-and-or­der talk also has ag­i­tated mem­bers of the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment, who think he doesn’t un­der­stand their con­cerns. Trump es­ca­lated his law en­force­ment rhetoric in re­cent months, sug­gest­ing sev­eral times that pro­test­ers are wrong to ques­tion po­lice ac­tions.

“Those ped­dling the nar­ra­tive of cops as a racist force in our so­ci­ety, a nar­ra­tive sup­ported with a nod by my op­po­nent, share di­rectly in the re­spon­si­bil­ity for the un­rest in Mil­wau­kee and many other places within our coun­try,” Trump said at a cam­paign rally in West Bend, Wis. “They have fos­tered the dan­ger­ous anti-po­lice at­mos­phere in Amer­ica.”

Many po­lit­i­cal strate­gists say the real pay­off to Trump’s over­tures to mi­nor­ity vot­ers would be to as­suage mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans who are con­cerned by charges that he is racist. But most doubt it will change the minds of mi­nor­ity vot­ers.

“The at­tempt is at try­ing to fix a prob­lem he has with main­stream vot­ers, and I’m not op­ti­mistic that will work,” said John Weaver, a long­time GOP strate­gist. “It’s heavy-handed, it’s such a hamhanded at­tempt. Here’s his prob­lem: Peo­ple would have to have Etch A Sketch mem­ory in their brains to forget ev­ery­thing he has said.” Ed O’Keefe in Or­lando, Jenna John­son in Wash­ing­ton and Eva Ruth Mo­ravec in Austin con­trib­uted to this re­port.

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