U.S. ELECTION WRAP: Bigot Debate ‘Unique,’ Sociologist Says

Charges of bigotry and hate-mongering are putting the 2016 presidential race in history books

The Trump Campaign's New Minority Outreach

Charges of bigotry and pandering to hate groups that now mark the 2016 presidential race are setting a new low in modern U.S. political history, said long-time cultural commentator Todd Gitlin.

  • “This campaign is unique,” Gitlin, an author and professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University in NYC, said in an interview
    • “I can’t think of a case where a major party presidential candidate called another one a bigot,” he said, referring to the label Donald Trump directed at Hillary Clinton in a speech earlier this week
    • The Democrat, for her part, has accused Trump of basing his campaign on “prejudice and paranoia,” and linked him to white nationalist fringe groups
  • The heated attacks show no signs of slowing after the rivals traded fierce race-related barbs yesterday in dueling speeches 
  • Trump repeated his claim that Clinton is “bigoted” in a CNN interview last night, while Clinton, when asked on MSNBC this morning if she views Trump a racist, said: “All I can do is point to the evidence of what he has said and what he has done”
    • Clinton is out with new video highlighting a 1973 lawsuit brought by the Justice Department against Trump and his father, Fred, for alleged housing discrimination (The case was settled in 1975 with no admission of wrongdoing)
    • The video plays off Trump’s recent appeals at rallies for support from black voters when, after listing problems plaguing their communities, he asks rhetorically “what do you have to lose” by backing him
    • “Everything,” the narrator intones
  • Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur examines the “hidden agenda” that may underlie Trump’s push for minority support; see full story
  • The Democratic opposition research firm American Bridge, for its part, released an anti-Trump video that includes the iconic photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s entourage seconds after the civil rights leader was assassinated in Memphis; the video is titled “Make American Hate Again”
  • Trump, meanwhile, on social media said Clinton “needs to address the racist undertones of her 2008 campaign” against Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination
    • He posted a video depicting criticism of remarks made by Clinton and her allies during that prolonged battle
    • He also released a video spotlighting Clinton’s defense in 1996 of then-President Bill Clinton’s controversial anti-crime bill and her reference to some inner-city youth as “superpredators” (Clinton earlier this year said she regretted that comment)
    • The Clintons “are the real predators,” Trump wrote on social media

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  • Gitlin said that while racial tensions have been exploited in prior campaigns, such as the “Willie Horton” ad run against Democrat Michael Dukakis in 1988, the efforts to directly interject race as an issue were always “deniable,” “hazy” or “insinuating,” as opposed to “accusatory”
  • GOP nominee Barry Goldwater in 1964 was attacked by Democrats over his opposition of landmark civil rights legislation, which he defended as standing up for states’ rights, but he wasn’t called a bigot, said Gitlin, author of The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage
  • Four years later, Richard Nixon was “quite defensive” about accusations he was indulging in racially tinged talk, even pushing back on the claim in his 1968 speech accepting the GOP nomination, Gitlin said
  • During the 1980 presidential race, Ronald Reagan raised eyebrows when he delivered his first post-convention speech near Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964
    • Still, the context of his message was “oblique,” Gitlin said, as Reagan focused on “states’ rights”
  • Trump is on a “whole different plane” with inflammatory remarks, according to Gitlin
  • Citing the Republican’s incendiary comments early in his campaign about Hispanics and Muslims, he said: “What Donald Trump did was decide to ride a wave of racial animosity and put it front-and-center in his campaign”
    • “That’s unprecedented,” Gitlin said
  • Despite shootings that have spotlighted conflicts between the police and minority communities, in his view the United States wasn’t ripe for racial polarization to play a major role in the presidential campaign
    • “The country is unsettled about racial questions, but it was certainly not foaming at the mouth for a racial confrontation”
  • Gitlin noted that Trump is polling poorly among young people
    • “They are not in the mood to indulge in white panic, the ‘make America white again’ panic”

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  • Trump is targeting Florida most heavily in his first wave of general-election ads, Bloomberg’s John McCormick reported
  • The master of free publicity didn’t start running these ads until August 19, roughly two months after Clinton
    • From mid-June through Aug. 23, Clinton outspent Trump $68 million to $1.7 million, according to estimates from ad tracker Kantar Media/CMAG


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  • President Obama plans to campaign for Clinton on September 13 in Philadelphia, and Vice President Joe Biden will stump for her September 1 in Ohio, according to Clinton campaign
  • Trump plans to hold an event in Detroit September 3, during Labor Day weekend, Detroit Free Press reported
    • Democratic candidates typically visit Detroit over Labor Day weekend to touch base with unions
    • Wayne Bradley, director of the Michigan Republican Party’s Detroit office, said Trump will speak with business and faith-based leaders to pitch his message that Democratic policies have ruined cities like Detroit
    • Clinton is 7.3 points ahead of Trump in Michigan in the RealClearPolitics average of recent polls

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  • Trump’s new presidential campaign chief, Stephen Bannon, has an active voter registration at a house in Florida that is vacant and set to be torn down to make way for a new development, The Guardian reported
    • Newspaper called situation an “apparent breach of election laws”
    • Jason Miller, a Trump campaign spokesman, said in an e-mail that Bannon “moved to another location in Florida;” he declined to elaborate, according to the newspaper
    • Bannon was “charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, battery and dissuading a witness following an incident” in early 1996 involving his then-wife Politico reported; the case ended when the wife didn’t appear in court
  • Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she didn’t know whether he knew of the matter
    • “I don’t know what he was aware of with respect to a 20-year-old claim where the charges were dropped,” she said


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  • Signet Jewelers is blaming the campaign on declining sales at its Jared stores, Bloomberg’s Kim Bhasin wrote
    • Uncertainty about how results in November might affect the economy has some people postponing purchases, according to the company
    • It’s “a consumer mindset issue that relates to bridal,” Signet CEO Mark Light said
    • He added: “Once we get through the elections, hopefully we’ll see some stability”
  • Trump’s campaign is hiring Bill Stepien, a former top aide to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the New York Times reported
    • Stepien’s role in the Fort Lee, N.J. “Bridgegate” scandal led to his firing from Christie’s staff, according to the newspaper
    • He’s expected to help guide Trump’s political operations; campaign spokesman didn’t respond to request for comment: NYT
  • Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said advice from Christie was key to what may be a shift in Trump’s hard-line stance on illegal immigration, according to NJ.com
  • Clinton, during an MSNBC interview, defended her family foundation’s plan to change its configuration if she is elected president, and said neither she nor aides acted inappropriately in interactions with donors to the group while she was secretary of state; see full story by Bloomberg’s Margaret Talev here
  • Paul Wolfowitz, a key architect of President George W. Bush’s defense policy during that administration’s first term, is leaning toward voting for Clinton, Politico reported he told the German newspaper Der Spiegel
    • “The only way you can be comfortable about Trump’s foreign policy is to think he doesn’t really mean anything he says,” Wolfowitz is quoted as saying
    • “That’s a pretty uncomfortable place to be in”

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  • RECRUITMENT: Democrats are “positioned to beat more” GOP Senate incumbents on Nov. 8 than they have cumulatively during Obama’s presidency, and “it’s tough to look at the 2016 field and say Democrats failed in recruiting,” Washington Post’s David Weigel reported
    • Story counters New York Times story yesterday that said Democrats are “hobbled by less-than-stellar candidates”
  • AZ: Ex-state Sen. Kelli Ward said on MSNBC’s MTP Daily that Sen. John McCain has “gotten weak” and “gotten old” and that as an osteopathic physician she knows “what happens to the body and the mind at the end of life”
    • McCain faces Ward in Republican primary Aug. 30, one day after his 80th birthday; Ward is 47
  • LA: GOP Rep. Charles Boustany released TV ad showing flooding in Louisiana as he says he’s “proud to fight” for coastal restoration, “good flood insurance,” and jobs in coastal areas
    • “We’ll get through this together,” says Boustany, who’s among 24 candidates of all political affiliations running in so-called jungle primary Nov. 8; runoff between top two finishers likely on Dec. 10
    • GOP Rep. John Fleming’s campaign in statement noted Boustany missed House vote on flood-insurance measure in March 2014
  • NH: GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s campaign released TV ad featuring N.H. woman who says she was victim of identity theft and Ayotte “came through for me and my husband” by intervening with IRS
    • Ayotte opposed by Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan for seat Washington Post’s Amber Phillips ranks as third most-likely to flip in partisan control, after GOP-held seats in Ill. and Wis.
  • NV: One Nation, conservative group led by a former chief o, released Spanish-language TV ad and radio spot promoting legislative record of Republican Rep. Joe Heck, Politico’s Morning Score reported


  • AD SPENDING: Outside groups have reserved more than $128m in TV time in key House races, The Hill reported
    • National Republican Congressional Cmte, Democratic Congressional Campaign Cmte, and House Majority PAC, a Democratic super-PAC, have together reserved $11.4m for CO-06 race between GOP Rep. Mike Coffman and Democratic state Sen. Morgan Carroll in Denver suburbs
  • FL-09: Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson “has very personal connections” in Aug. 30 primary in which his new wife and former district director are two candidates seeking to succeed him, Associated Press reported
    • Dena Grayson, biomedical researcher who married Grayson in May, and Susannah Randolph seek Democratic nomination along with state Sen. Darren Soto, party activist Valleri Crabtree
    • Winner of primary favored to succeed Grayson, who’s running for Senate, in Orlando-area district that leans Democratic
  • NY-24: GOP Rep. John Katko and Democratic challenger Colleen Deacon will hold three televised debates and appear jointly at two other events, Syracuse.com reported
    • Syracuse-area district voted 57%-41% for Obama in 2012
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