Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was bigoted from his first trip down the escalator 356 days ago.
Standing in the lobby of Trump Tower, he announced that Mexico is “sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” He concluded, “And some, I assume, are good people.”
Over the next few months, Trump’s campaign abandoned racist dog whistles in favor of Fox 40s.
In a Trump presidency, he declared, Muslims would be barred from traveling to the United States.
When two of his supporters beat and urinated on a Mexican immigrant in Boston, Trump initially didn’t condemn their violence. Instead, he responded, “I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”
When he was endorsed by white supremacist David Duke, Trump first feigned ignorance as to who the former Klan leader was.
Each of these incidents brought condemnation in the media, but also saw Trump solidify his lead in the Republican primary.
Last week Trump began his general election effort by attacking Judge Gonzalo Curiel, claiming that as a “Mexican,” Curiel is unfit to serve as a judge in the fraud case against his real estate seminar company, Trump University. Curiel was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants.
The presumptive GOP nominee then suggested on Sunday that a Muslim would also be unfit to preside over any court case he was party to.
Bloomberg is now reporting that Trump is refusing to back down from this line of attack and is instead ordering his campaign surrogates “to intensify criticism” of Judge Curiel and of journalists. He reportedly told a conference call joined by high-level supporters, “We will overcome,” before claiming, “I’ve always won and I’m going to continue to win. And that’s the way it is.”
When former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer told him on the call “that his own campaign had asked surrogates to stop talking about the lawsuit,” Trump replied, “Take that order and throw it the hell out.”
Trump’s experience in the Republican primary apparently taught him that his bigotry works or, at a minimum, is ignored by a primarily white GOP electorate that is willing to look the other way.
Now he faces a new challenge in the general election. A February report from the Pew Research Center concluded, “There are 10.7 million more eligible voters today than there were in 2012. More than two-thirds of net growth in the U.S. electorate during this time has come from racial and ethnic minorities.”
These voters, along with Democrats and even many independents, are unlikely to look kindly upon Donald Trump’s racist appeals. That is why Newt Gingrich, no stranger to racial dog whistles, told the Christian Broadcasting Network Friday, “The person who’s most likely to beat Donald Trump is Donald Trump.”