Skip to main content
ABC News
Conventional Wisdom: Trump’s Racist Comments Take The Spotlight Again

This is our weekly politics newsletter, Conventional Wisdom, covering the wild world of Donald Trump’s Republican Party. (Sign up here.)

At this point in 2016, you could Google “Trump, race” and come up with pretty much every story written about the businessman’s presidential campaign in the last 12 months. Yet this week’s news cycle was particularly filled with reports on the candidate’s racial animus.

Trump publicly brought up a lawsuit against Trump University, which is accused of defrauding students, and said the federal judge presiding over the case, Gonzalo Curiel, had “an absolute conflict” because he was “of Mexican heritage.”

“He’s a Mexican. We’re building a wall between here and Mexico,” Trump said of the Indiana-born judge in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, who pressed the candidate more than 20 times about whether his attack on the judge was, by definition, racist.

On “Face the Nation,” John Dickerson asked whether a Muslim judge would also be biased based simply on religion.

“It’s possible, yes,” Trump said. “Yeah. That would be possible, absolutely.”

When Dickerson asked, “Isn’t there sort of a tradition, though, in America that we don’t judge people by who their parents were and where they came from?” Trump replied with 11 words that glossed over the entire reason my great-grandparents — and perhaps yours too, reader — came to America:

“I’m not talking about tradition. I’m talking about common sense, OK?”

Trump’s rhetoric about Curiel has been a bridge too far even for some of his supporters. In an email to The Washington Post, Newt Gingrich wrote, “I don’t know what Trump’s reasoning was, and I don’t care. His description of the judge in terms of his parentage is completely unacceptable.”

Trump also came under fire this week for something he said at a rally. Pointing to a black man in the crowd, he said, “Oh, look at my African-American over here. Are you the greatest? Do you know what I’m talking about?” We’ll just leave that one there.

Outside another Trump rally, on Thursday night in San Jose, California, protesters turned violent, attacking rally attendees — some were bloodied — egging them and burning “Make America Great Again” hats. Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta, condemned the violence, writing in a tweet, “Violence against supporters of any candidate has no place in this election.”

In lighter news, I suppose, Bill Kristol’s mysterious independent candidate for president, who was revealed to be National Review writer David French, wrote Sunday night that he would not be running for president. He earns points for describing himself as “a pretty darn obscure lawyer, writer, and veteran.”

Several high-profile Republicans still aren’t sure whether they’re going to go to the party’s convention in Cleveland come July, and that includes Ohio’s governor, John Kasich, and one of its senators, Rob Portman, who’s running for re-election.

Those unsure of their July schedules include Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. There are quite a few party establishment types who have checked their black books and will for sure not be showing up July 18, including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

“I’m sure it will be fun; I’m sure it will be entertaining,” Graham told The New York Times. “And I can watch it on TV.”

Listen to the latest episode of the FiveThirtyEight politics podcast.


Read more:

Hispanic Voters Will Decide Bernie Sanders’s Fate in California by Nate Silver — Three recent surveys from highly rated polling firms show Bernie Sanders just 2 percentage points behind Clinton in California. Clinton is ahead by double digits, however, in other polls, including one that has her up by 18 percentage points. It’s making for another confusing finish in a primary season that has already had plenty of them. And it’s an indication of how little we know about how Hispanic Democrats (and Asian-American Democrats) are voting this year.

‘Missing’ White Voters Might Help Trump, But Less So Where He Needs It by David Wasserman — The last time the non-Hispanic white share of the electorate went up was 1992, when another ideology-defying, billionaire outsider stirred up a nationwide frenzy. Can Trump reawaken enough of Ross Perot’s voters to beat Clinton in a general election?

Senate 2016: The Democrats Strike Back by Harry Enten — Among the eight U.S. Senate seats most likely to change hands in 2016, six are held by Republicans in states that President Obama won twice. If Trump does better in the presidential race than expected, Democratic gains could be kept to a minimum, but the field is tilted in their favor.

Clare Malone is a former senior political writer for FiveThirtyEight.