Tweets Condemned As Racist Are Part Of Trump's Plan, And Strategists Say It May Work

The chorus of condemnation U.S. President Donald Trump faced from pundits, Democrats and even a few Republicans Monday was loud and necessary but, ultimately, helped Trump accomplish what he set out to do, say some Republican strategists. 

By keeping the focus on the four progressive Democratic congresswomen of colour he singled out in a series of racially charged, incendiary tweets, and getting the party to unite behind them, the president painted the Democrats as the party of the radical left.

"What he's trying to do is very smart from an electoral strategy perspective," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist who worked on John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. 

"He's trying to make the Squad … the face of the 2020 Democratic Party."

"The Squad" has become the shorthand for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, four women elected to Congress last November who have been trying to push the Democrats further left and have high media visibility but limited power in the party and the House of Representatives.

By equating the party with them, Trump not only fires up his base but also potentially gets the ear of undecided voters in the swing and battleground states, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania, that will decide the 2020 election.

O'Connell pointed to a poll from May shared with the Axios news site that took the political temperature of around 1,000 likely voters who are white and have two years or less of college education. It's a demographic that embraced Trump in 2016 — and one Democrats are trying to win in swing districts.

The poll suggested that while Ocasio-Cortez was recognized by 74 per cent of voters surveyed, only 22 per cent had a favourable view of the congresswoman. Omar stood at 53 and nine per cent, respectively.

Respondents were also asked about socialism, which 69 per cent of them viewed unfavourably.

O'Connell said the aim of calling out the four freshmen members of Congress is to inflate their reach and suggest that whoever wins the Democratic nomination will be aligned with their views.

"For incumbent presidents, their best time to make their case is between now and when the Democrats have their nominee."

Read more from Kazi Stastna at CBC

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Analysis & Political Strategy