White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has slammed the Donald Trump for his refusal to contradict a supporter’s prejudiced claims about Muslims and President Obama’s faith and nationality. He expanded this condemnation into a general indictment of the Republican Party for what he claims is habitual pandering to racist and other bigoted sentiments.
According to The Hill, Earnest went on to argue that the biggest Republican base held prejudiced and xenophobic views, and that a regular feature of Republican politics is to use prejudice to attract voters from this base.
“People who hold these offensive views are part of Mr. Trump’s base. Mr. Trump himself would be the first to tell you that he’s got the biggest base of any Republican politician these days.”
Earnest was being asked about the infamous questions that presidential hopeful Donald Trump fielded last week. The supporter made several comments before posing his question.
“We have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one — you know he’s not even an American. But anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question, when can we get rid of them?”
It was Trump’s failure to challenge the question’s prejudice or even contradict the oft-repeated “birther” claim that caused a furor last week. For Earnest, this was Republican politics, as usual.
“Is anybody really surprised this happened at a Donald Trump rally? I don’t think anybody who has been paying attention to Republican politics are really surprised.”
Earnest went on to claim that other Republicans’ refusal to directly challenge Trump on views like this was based on their desire to win those very same votes. This, and other statements, can be interpreted as accusing the Republican Party of regularly using racism as a campaign strategy. Earnest pointed to past GOP scandals such as the controversy surrounding Rep Steve Scalise, who earlier this year addressed a white supremacist rally. Earnest referred to Scalise as “David Duke without the baggage.”
Progressive media reacted gleefully to this statement, with publications such as The Daily Kos calling the response, “well-designed” and expressing satisfaction at a White House that “no longer minces words.”
Earnest predicted a reaction beyond that of the already converted, however, arguing that this kind of conduct will inevitably lead to a penalty at the ballot box.
“This is a cynical strategy that too many Republican politicians have dabbled in because, for some of them, it’s proven to be successful. But there are consequences for it… at the ballot box too, because I’m confident the voters are paying attention.”
Whether Earnest is right about this issue or not, many media outlets and commentators are expressing their relief and approval upon hearing this denunciation. Many commentators have, from the very outset, deplored the tone that Trump has taken, as well as its effect on the political discourse during this primaries race.
You can see Josh Earnest’s comments in the video below.
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