Monday June 06, 2016 – Top Republican officials and donors are increasingly worried about the threat Donald Trump’s attack on a judge’s Mexican heritage could pose to their party’s chances in November — and about the GOP’s ability to win Latino votes for many elections to come.
Trump is under fire for repeatedly accusing U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing a lawsuit involving Trump University, of bias because of his Mexican heritage. Those concerns intensified Sunday after Trump said he would have the same concerns about the impartiality of a Muslim judge.
House and Senate GOP leaders have condemned Trump’s remarks about Curiel, while donors have openly worried that losing Latino voters could doom them in key down-ballot races. Other important party figures, including former Speaker Newt Gingrich, are urging Trump to change his combative, confrontational style before it’s too late.
Veteran Republican strategist Rick Wilson warned this weekend that GOP leaders who have endorsed Trump “own his politics.”
“You own his politics,” Wilson wrote in a column for Heatstreet, adding later, “You own the racial animus that started out as a bug, became a feature and is now the defining characteristic of his campaign. You own every crazy, vile chunk of word vomit that spews from his mouth.”
The GOP’s deepest fear: A Barry Goldwater effect that could last far longer than Trump’s political aspirations.
Goldwater, the Arizona senator who was the 1964 GOP nominee and a leader of the conservative movement, alienated a generation of African-American voters by opposing the Civil Rights Act — opening the door for Democrats to lock in their support for decades. Republicans fret that Trump could similarly leave a stain with Latino voters.
“I am concerned about that,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Sunday.
“America is changing. When Ronald Reagan was elected, 84% of the electorate was white,” McConnell said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “This November, 70% will be. It’s a big mistake for our party to write off Latino Americans. And they’re an important part of the country and soon to be the largest minority group in the country.”
“I hope he’ll change his direction on that,” said McConnell, who first made the Goldwater comparison last week in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
That hasn’t happened yet. In interviews Sunday, Trump wouldn’t back away from his assertion that Curiel’s parents’ birth in Mexico has left the judge angry over Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and biased in the legal case over Trump University. Trump even went further, saying on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he’d have similar concerns over a Muslim judge, since he has proposed banning all Muslims from entering the United States.
Trump’s remarks led to condemnations from the same leading Republicans that in recent weeks have embraced him — and accepted that the party’s fate in November is inextricably linked to his.
“I don’t agree with what he had to say,” McConnell said.
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