Jim Clark: Understanding the enigma that is Donald Trump (opinion)
June 9, 2016
The "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" continue to assault GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Last week, Trump spoke in San Jose. After the presentation, his supporters were bloodied and egg-splattered by a mob reportedly organized by MoveOn.Org and Black Lives Matter (who provided and paid for the anti-Trump signs). The mob featured protestors waving Mexican flags and burning U.S. flags.
In the same news cycle, Trump publicly unloaded on a federal judge assigned to a civil class action trial in San Diego against now defunct Trump University brought by some of its former students. Trump publicly accused Judge Gonzalo Curiel of bias because his parents were from Mexico, and Trump has famously advocated deporting undocumented Latino criminals and building a wall at the Mexican border.
Is his campaign for the White House self-destructing even before the GOP convention? One day earlier, GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan had issued lukewarm support for Trump. When Trump's "judge" comments were aired, Ryan said he "totally disagreed" with Trump.
Fox News star Megyn Kelly, a lawyer turned pundit, raked Trump over the coals for his "inappropriate" accusations about Judge Curiel. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on national TV: "I worry about Donald Trump's rhetoric. I wish he would discontinue it."
The San Diego Union-Tribune counseled its Republican readers to write in the name of Ronald Reagan in the California Primary Election because: "we believe in a more unifying message."
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So is Hillary going to be a shoo-in come November? Here's a little analysis for readers to think about. First of all, my primary hypothesis is: "Trump ain't stupid." If you disagree with that, you should skip to the want ads because the rest of this column won't make sense to you.
First of all, a confession: I do not understand Trump, but I'm trying to. I start by acknowledging that he has just finished systematically laying to waste 16 of the GOP's brightest and best presidential prospects in fair and open election battles despite a number of mega-million super PAC campaigns to cut him off at the knees. That's impressive.
Next, consider the Latino vote. For as long as I have been associated with the GOP, it has been an article of faith that Republicans have to attract Latino voters. We hear that George Bush garnered 44% of Latinos and won, while McCain and Romney mired at under 30% and lost.
Trump doesn't seem to care. If his strategy is to win over "blue" states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, maybe those images of U.S. flags burning will infuriate a lot of Reagan Democrats. Remember, all during the fall campaign he will be hitting Hillary's negatives such as the email scandal, Benghazi and the Clinton "money laundering" Foundation.
Now, about Judge Curiel. USA Today just published a detailed history of Trump and Trump Company lawsuits … some 3,500 plus over the years. The score? For every courtroom loss, the Trump interests won 10. All we know about this case is that Curiel exercised judgment in certifying the class action and again in releasing documents which he subsequently admitted were prematurely released (names should have been redacted).
So when Trump accuses Judge Curiel of bias solely because of his Latino ethnicity, is he risking alienation of Latino voters, appealing to Midwestern Caucasian voters or setting the Trump University case up for appeal? Maybe all three?
An appeal would vacate a decision in Judge Curiel's court and require a retrial. The prospect of a retrial would enormously improve Trump University's bargaining position respecting possible settlement. And what is Trump famous for? Negotiating!
A year ago, all the knowledgeable experts dismissed Trump's bombast and gave him zero chance of securing the GOP nomination. Who's laughing now?
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.