In July 1992, independent presidential hopeful Ross Perot still thought he could make inroads with minority communities, so he accepted an invitation to address the NAACP national convention. The appearance was disaster: the candidate made multiple references to “you people” when addressing attendees.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, White House aspirants know not to say “you people” anymore, but some national candidates still come close. MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin reported from the Republican Jewish Coalition forum yesterday, where literally every Republican presidential hopeful accepted an invitation to speak. though some spoke louder than others.
“I’m a negotiator, like you folks,” [Donald] Trump told the audience. “Is there anybody that doesn’t renegotiate deals in this room?” he asked later on. “This room negotiates them perhaps more than any other room I’ve ever spoken in.”
This followed Trump boasting about how little money he’s spent on his campaign thus far. “I think you, as business people, will feel good about this and respect it,” he said.
Note, it wasn’t just Trump. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) reminisced about the advice he received as a child: “My mother told me one time, she said, ‘Johnny’ – when I was a very young man – she said, ‘Johnny, if you want to look for a really good friend, get somebody who’s Jewish.’ And you know why she said that? She said, ‘No matter what happens to you, your friend, your Jewish friend will stick by your side and fight right with you and stand by you.”
Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore added, “Last night I was watching Schindler’s List. Everybody here has seen Schindler’s List.”
After months of campaigning, it seemed as if the Republican presidential field couldn’t possibly offend any other minority groups. So much for that idea.