Facing two class action lawsuits, Donald Trump went on a twelve minute rant Friday against federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel who is presiding over one of the cases pending against Trump University. Trump, the billionaire reality TV host, is accused of defrauding thousands of people out of money in connection with the now defunct school.
With his supporters chanting “build that wall!” Trump said the Indiana-born Curiel was a “Mexican.” He then quickly added, “I think that’s fine.”
It’s a bit of psychological magic. Suggest to the crowd that the judge is “not one of us” and then pivot to say “it’s fine.”
Trump then traveled to New Mexico, home of the popular Susana Martinez, the only female Hispanic GOP governor in the country.
The presumptive Republican nominee proceeded to attack Martinez, at one point saying: “Your governor has got to do a better job. She’s not doing the job. Hey, maybe I’ll run for governor of New Mexico. I’ll get this place going.”
Even Trump supporters were aghast. “You don’t want to see your candidate who needs to get stronger with Latinos, and stronger with women, attack a Latina woman Republican governor,” said Newt Gingrich, who has been angling to get on Trump’s ticket.
Conservative columnist George Will added, “Trump has a problem with women, Hispanics, and Republicans so he attacks a Republican Hispanic woman governor.”
Senator Lindsey Graham, who now backs Trump, said, “I think he’s a wrecking ball for the future of the Republican Party with the Hispanic community. And we need to push back.”
Earlier this month, one of the nation’s largest Hispanic evangelical groups listened to Trump deliver a two minute message, which had been recorded on a cell phone. Trump was seated in his plane and he read his comments from a sheet of paper. As 1,200 Hispanic leaders looked at each other in disbelief, one took the microphone after Trump’s remarks and said, “I believe it’s time for us to pray.”
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference president Rev. Samuel Rodriguez said afterward he had “no plans to endorse Donald Trump whatsoever.”
Trump has made illegal immigration the centerpiece of his campaign. His wants to build a giant wall on the Mexican border, and round up, and send back, 11 million people currently in the United States. In the last six months he has called Mexicans “killers” and “rapists” and at one point even attacked Jeb Bush’s Hispanic wife.
His campaign rhetoric has created a wave of violent protests in states with large Hispanic populations. This after the national Republican Party issued a report three years ago which found Mitt Romney had lost the election, in part, due to the horrific performance of the GOP with Hispanic voters.
So why is this happening?
Make no mistake. Donald Trump has declared war on Hispanics.
He concluded long ago that beating up on this ethnic group can unite enough white voters — especially white men — in battleground states like Ohio, New Hampshire, Iowa and Virginia to give him a victory this November.
It’s just that cold and calculated.
Trump is a master of public perception and persuasion. It’s what he does for a living. He’s written about it in his books. He spent years on television learning how the visual can get higher ratings.
Images of Hispanics protesting in places like California, sometimes with the Mexican flag waving in the background, do him no harm in states with predominately white voters.
Pitting groups of Americans against each other is part of the playbook Trump has devised to reach 270 electoral votes.
It is a move that is likely to set back the Republican Party for a generation. What’s worse, it could have far reaching consequences for all Americans in the future.