White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during a news briefing at the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. 
Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

White House struggles to explain Trump’s ‘breeding concept’ reference


“There is a Revolution going on in California,” Donald Trump wrote on Twitter last week. “Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept.”

It’s not exactly a secret that the president writes poorly, rejects proper grammar, and has a limited vocabulary, but in the context of a missive on immigration, Trump’s rejection of a “breeding concept” stood out as notable. Indeed, as the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank asked in response, “What could he mean? Immigrants are breeding thoroughbred horses? Prize-winning cattle? Or perhaps Trump was using ‘breeding’ in the sense now popular among white supremacists?”

It need not be a rhetorical question. In fact, reporters pressed White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for an explanation at yesterday’s briefing:

Q: When he used the word “breeding,” was he making a derogatory term about Latinos in California – that they breed a lot or that they’re prone to breeding? Was he talking about –

SANDERS: No, he’s talking about the problem itself growing and getting bigger.

So, by lamenting the “breeding concept,” the president was referring to an immigration “problem”? Later in the briefing, reporters pressed further:

Q: But what does “breeding” mean? What does “breeding” mean to this President? Because when you think of breeding, you think of animals breeding – populating.

SANDERS: I’m not going to begin to think what you think –

Q: But can you tell us what the president thought?

SANDERS: Certainly, I think that it can mean a lot of things to a lot of people.

Perhaps we’ve reached the point at which presidential rhetoric is like art, and its meaning is in the eye of the beholder.

Finally, toward the end of the briefing, a third reporter asked whether the president was “talking about people having babies” when he referenced “breeding.” Sanders shook her head.

“Not that I’m aware of,” she said. “I’d have to ask him to dig into that deeper.”

I have a hunch she won’t ask him to dig into that deeper.