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Two Years and Hundreds of Inflammatory Ads Later, the G.O.P. Is the Party of Trump

Category: Political News,Politics

That strategy has its limits. Last year in Virginia, Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who once urged his party to avoid the “siren song” of anti-immigrant rhetoric, lost his bid for governor after a campaign that adopted Mr. Trump’s cultural and racially tinged messaging, including advertisements featuring tattooed Salvadoran prisoners meant to be members of the gang MS-13, a frequent target of the president.

For the party, the long-term risks are obvious. The country’s demographics are changing: Minorities now make up a majority in five states — Hawaii, New Mexico, California, Texas and Nevada — as well as the District of Columbia. Census officials predict that by 2027, minorities will outnumber whites among young voters ages 18 to 29.

“Their current messaging does not address the aspirations of many immigrants and young voters, and that’s the future,” said Tom Davis, a retired congressman and former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “Should that continue, it’s a demographic death wish.”

Mr. Davis, though, argues that what is happening in 2018 is nothing more than the usual end-of-campaign-season hardball politicking. Jack Kingston, a former Republican congressman from Georgia, said Democrats engaged in their own brand of racially tinged politics. He pointed to a speech given by Oprah Winfrey at a town hall for Ms. Abrams in which Ms. Winfrey, harking back to the days when African-Americans did not have the right to vote, told a black crowd that failing to show up at the polls would be “dishonoring your family.”

“Oprah had a very deliberate racial message,” Mr. Kingston said.

Mr. Kingston said if he had his druthers, Republicans would have centered their message on the economy, and not closed out the campaign with dire warnings about caravans of immigrants.

“We don’t have to use any racial language. We have the lowest unemployment rates in history for African-Americans and Hispanics,” he said. “But I also know that any time any of us second-guess President Trump on messaging, we lose.”


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