Anti-Trump protesters moving undecideds to Trump column
The violent protests that have erupted in and around Donald Trump rallies are moving undecideds to support the GOP nominee, say many experts.
“When people show up throwing bottles and waving the Mexican flag, you have had a lot of people who may have not been willing to supportTrump who see this and say the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” said former Rep. Tom Davis, who ran House Republicans’ campaign committee for two cycles a decade ago. “There is no question these are helping Trump, and Democrats know that.”
The billionaire businessman’s stern calls to tighten border controls, his vow to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and his declaration that Mexican society is sending “rapists” and other bad elements to the U.S. have angered Hispanic activists, who view Mr. Trump’s campaign as a tipping point in politics.
Likewise, his call for a ban on Muslim visitors and some of his comments about women leave many voters wary and some of them angry enough to take action beyond the ballot box.
Attempts to disrupt his rallies from the inside have drawn stiff rebukes from the 69-year-old candidate, who has talked about punching protesters and described others as undatable goobers, diaper-wearing morons and fat blowhards.
“Go home to mommy,” he told a protester at rally last week in Albuquerque.
The videos of anti-Trump protesters burning American flags and screaming obscenities at Trump supporters are not only all over the news. They are all over the internet. This guarantees maximum exposure to voters who apparently aren't buying the Democratic narrative that the violence is Trump's fault.
Patrick Buchanan, a two-time presidential candidate, said the scenes could alarm moderate Republicans already wary of Mr. Trump, and there is a danger the protests could feed into a media narrative that he is inciting the violence.
For now, though, Mr. Buchanan said “on balance Mr. Trump wins” because the protesters appear to be backing up the candidate’s claims.
“Cop-battlers and rock-throwers desecrating American flags and waving Mexican flags are a perfect foil for Trump,” he said. “They solidify and harden his base and reinforce his case against the illegals from across the border.”
Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, and her allies have indeed accused Mr. Trump of stoking the violence with his policy proposals and behavior on the stump.
“When you divide people against one another, you don’t know what is going to happen,” Mrs. Clinton said at a rally this year. “We are seeing violence at political rallies in our country. That is the kind of thing you see on TV, you assume is far away, don’t you? Well, this, this hateful talk about immigrants, about Muslims, about women, I mean, enough, enough. It is not who we are.”
Polls suggest that voters blame Trump for the violence but blame protesters more.
The implied message of Hillary Clinton is that Trump is to blame because protesters can't control themselves. His rhetoric is so divisive they lose their minds and perform acts of violence without thinking.
Both Sanders and Clinton have refused to denounce these displays of anti-Americanism. Chris Matthews stuck his foot in his mouth when he referred to Trump supporters inadvertently as "the Americans," thus going off script to portray the two sides as "American" and "Anti-American":
MSNBC's Chris Matthews had one of his classic gaffes on Friday's Hardball as he watched live footage of Trump supporters facing off against protesters outside one of the billionaire's rallies in San Diego, California. Matthews stopped himself from calling the Trump backers "Americans," and continued by labeling them with their apparent political ideology: "So we hear 'USA' from the Amer — well, the people taking the conservative view — let's put it that way — the ones with the U.S. flags." [video below]
Moments later, guest Ann Coulter pointed out the host's misstep: "You got it right before — when you slipped and said something about the protesters versus the Trump supporters — and you called the Trump supporters the Americans. They are the Americans." Matthews admitted, "That was a slip. I was looking at the American flags against the Mexican flags."
There is every indication that the protests will only get bigger and more violent, culminating in tens of thousands of demonstrators descending on Cleveland for the GOP convention in July. The potential for a catastrophic explosion is there, but given the ramping up of security, it's hoped that this scenario can be avoided.