With Racist Tweets And Comments, Trump Signals Bare-Knuckle Reelection Fight

Trump’s racially charged comments about the women, known colloquially as “the squad,” and his aggressive reaction to the ensuing political firestorm signals a no-holds-barred reelection fight for the bombastic Republican president that will be anything but quiet. 

“He’s hitting on the rawest nerve in American politics and American history,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist who advises Trump’s Republican allies such as South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Florida  Gov. Ron DeSantis. “It shows he’s willing to go as far as he wants and needs to go to get reelected.”

Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist and adjunct professor at The George Washington University, said the White House had been searching for a way to tie members of “the squad” to the 2020 campaign.

“Frankly, they didn’t really know how to do it. But recent events changed that, and President Trump saw an opening,” O’Connell said. “What he’s really trying to do here is make [Ocasio-Cortez] and Omar the face of the 2020 Democratic Party. They don’t know who the nominee will be, so they become a placeholder in the meantime. And the election, barring some unforeseen event, will probably come down to seven states — and ‘the squad’ doesn’t exactly do well in those places.”

Ayres disagreed with speculation that Trump’s hard-line message might further erode his support with suburban female voters.

“They voted overwhelmingly for Democratic congressional candidates in the 2018 midterms,” he said. “They aren’t part of the Trump coalition. … His approval rating doesn’t really change, and it wasn’t hurt by his comments about white nationalists after Charlottesville. … It probably energizes his core supporters, but it doesn’t change the balance of the pro-Trump and anti-Trump groups.”

O’Connell said what matters isn’t whether those women vote for the president. Rather, it is whether they will “actually go vote for the other guy or gal?”

Read more from John T. Bennett at Roll Call

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Analysis & Political Strategy