Trump and Wallace — the two names are starting to show up together more and more as the raucous primary season gives way to the general election on November 8.
While there are plenty of differences — unlike Trump, Wallace was a third-party candidate — there are also a number of similarities that Face the Nation’s John Dickerson decided to share on a recent episode of The Axe Files, former Obama campaign strategist David Axelreod’s CNN-produced podcast.
Dickerson said that to best describe Trump, the Wallace campaign has come up time and again with good reason.
Donald Trump’s candidacy draws a page from that of George Wallace, the longtime Alabama… https://t.co/EXAKK24lkS pic.twitter.com/4WrZBLIoG7
— Qcitymetro.com (@Qcitymetro) August 2, 2016
Like Trump, with Wallace, “people were like, ‘He’s never going to get on the ballot.’ He (Wallace) got on the ballot in all 50 states,” Dickerson explained.
He continued, “People said, ‘Oh, it’s just a regional thing.’ But in the north — in 1964, he’d done well in some Democratic primaries — he started to do so well in the north that both Humphrey and Nixon started to worry about it because there were a lot of working class whites, who resented the riots, peace marches, and also the African-American rising labor costs.”
At this point, Axelrod interjected that as with Trump, the Wallace rise was predicated because elites in both political parties had been slow to recognize the segregationist’s popularity.
Another similarity, according to Dickerson, was the press analysis of the time, which at first speculated that Wallace was a “Cat’s Paw” for Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was secretly supportive of the controversial candidate because he wanted to “steal votes on the law and order message from Nixon.”
As anyone who watched Trump’s RNC speech will remember, he decided to bill himself as “the law and order candidate.”
In Dickerson’s view, as with Trump, Wallace rose to prominence because people “misunderstood the sense of anger.”
“And then also when you see or hear someone talking about ‘law and order’ — Trump uses that phrase — it was really Wallace who did it and appealed to and used that language to appeal to fears that whites had about raging inner cities.”
— Barb- TRUMP ARMY! (@BarbMuenchen) August 4, 2016
All this leads to the ultimate parallel and one that Axelrod posed as a question to Dickerson: Are the Trump, Wallace parallels there when it comes to actual votes?
Wallace did not win the 1968 election, though he was able to win five states, a feat that no other third-party candidate has been able to do in a presidential election since.
And from Dickerson’s view, the votes aren’t there for Trump either.
“Republicans are speaking out in a way that no one really spoke out against Wallace,” Dickerson said. “When Paul Ryan has repeatedly called out Donald Trump … you didn’t see that in the Republican party. Nixon didn’t call out Wallace for making racial appeals, so that’s one change either in moral focus or in that you’re offending more voters now than you would have had in Wallace’s time.”
Ultimately, the votes “just don’t look like they’re there for Trump to get as many votes as he would need out of that portion of the electorate (whites) without writing off a larger portion of the electorate unless Hillary helps him.”
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What do you think, readers? Is the Trump-Wallace connection a legitimate one, and do you think the GOP frontrunner will succumb to a similar fate as Wallace did in the 1968 election? Sound off in the comments section.