The reason Donald Trump is speaking to African American voters in Detroit this weekend isn’t because he thinks he can win the African American vote. Well, Trump seems to believe he will or at least has promised that, but that’s not why his handlers found a friendly place to take pictures of him talking to a predominately black audience.
Donald Trump is being sent to talk to black people to save the Republican Party from the bleed-out with college educated whites. It’s all about giving college educated whites cover, plausible deniability if you will, regarding Trump’s blatant racism. So they don’t have to be so embarrassed by voting for him.
And since Donald Trump is the head of the Republican Party right now, this move is meant to protect vulnerable Republicans down ticket as well as the general brand.
Lynn Vavreck explored the cost of Donald Trump’s nomination for the GOP in The New York Times, in which she pointed out, “What’s especially striking is that the negative reaction to Mr. Trump by many Republican voters comes largely from his strident language in separating people into ‘in’ and ‘out’ groups based on race and ethnicity… A Quinnipiac poll released on Thursday revealed that 59 percent of likely voters thought the way Mr. Trump talks appeals to bigotry.”
Trump’s blatant bigotry is losing certain Republican voters, even though it won him the Republican primary. What to do?
Give the Republican college educated whites some cover. Instead of only speaking to mostly white audiences about how he’s going to help African Americans (a confusing message from a man who is running on bigotry and Southern Strategy, for sure), Trump is going to look like he might really care by actually deeming to speak to some black voters.
So here comes the set up to talk to the predominately African American audience of the Great Faith Ministries in Detroit, Michigan this Saturday.
Greg Sargent explained in his “Top Trump aide says he ‘deserves credit’ for taking his case to black audiences” piece in the Washington Post that “it’s notable that Conway explicitly states that a chief aim here is for Trump to get ‘credit’ for taking his case to African American audiences. Conway very likely wants college educated whites to give Trump credit for this (not to mention leading media opinion-makers).”
Sargent backed up this thought with some data showing Trump’s bigot branding problem, “Tellingly, according to the crosstabs, college educated whites believe this by 58-39, and white women with college degrees — a key constituency the campaigns are fighting for — believe this by a more overwhelming 66-33.”
So Trump is fighting to launch New Trump version III by being seen speaking to black people. The only question is how many college educated whites can he win back with this play. That will largely be answered by how his scheme is treated by the media and received by the American people.
If Trump gets busted for using black people to get more white voters, it won’t be the best news for the Republican party in general. But if things go according to plan, expect to see many Republicans citing Trump’s willingness to speak to African Americans as a Big Deal that disproves his racism/racist strategy.
It’s a larger version of “I don’t hate gay people, I have a gay friend.” And this version comes with photos to back it up. Look, he’s not a racist! He spoke to black people.
The risk is that this strategy is exceptionally offensive when it becomes clear that Donald Trump isn’t just ignoring black voters, now he’s actually planning to use them as cover, as a get-out-of-racist-jail free card. Note, his campaign isn’t discussing changing his policies in order to benefit minorities nor has Trump toned down his lies about the African American community.
This isn’t just about 2016 either. Jason Easley reported in PoliticusUSA Tuesday morning on Donald Trump wasting money on blue states while Clinton is making inroads in red states, “The long-term implications of the two candidates’ decisions could change the future electoral landscape, as Hillary Clinton is building to turn red states blue, while Donald Trump burns money on delusions of blue states that will never flip into his column.”
The stakes are very high for the Republican Party right now. They have to tone down the bigot branding or the long-term damage to the party could be immeasurable. So Donald Trump will be asked if he’s a racist while speaking to a mostly black audience this Saturday in Detroit, and his willingness to do this will be touted as great proof that he is not, in fact, a racist.
This plan relies on white Republicans agreeing that it’s a favor to speak to black people, something a white person should get “credit” for.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.