But the president isn’t just concerned about Democratic candidates and officeholders. At a campaign rally in Arizona the other day, Trump took aim at Democratic voters, too:
“They’re only sticking together because they want to make sure that I and we don’t get what they know our country needs. But I think they may be forced politically to do it, because I got to tell you, anybody that votes for a Democrat now is crazy.”
He was referring, of course, to roughly half the electorate in the country Trump ostensibly leads.
Which brings us back to a point we discussed a couple of weeks ago. Around this point in the 2016 election cycle, Hillary Clinton delivered remarks in which she took aim at Trump’s radicalized base. To be “grossly generalistic,” she said, “you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’”
More specifically, Clinton lamented the fact that so much of Trump’s core support is “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, [and] Islamaphobic” – an assessment that stood up pretty well to further scrutiny.
Nevertheless, Republicans became a little obsessed with the line, and the media soon followed. I’ll confess that I never fully understood why this became a furious point of contention, but the conventional wisdom said Clinton had crossed a line: criticizing a rival candidate is fine, but criticizing Americans, even bigoted Americans, is beyond the pale for someone seeking the nation’s highest office.
If Clinton had called Trump voters “crazy,” would the controversy have been even more intense? If so, why is the Republican president held to a lower standard now?