Thursday 02/07/2020 - 09:29 pm

GOP leaders should have given Hillary Clinton"s speech in 2012: Column

Steven Strauss

2016.08.29 05:20

 Hillary Clinton, with her fact-based argument that Donald Trump is encouraging racism, white nationalism and “taking hate groups mainstream,” has now given the speech that many Republicans no doubt wish they had made five years ago.

Back then, Trump was flooding the airwaves with “birther” madness and winning plaudits from the GOP establishment.

When he endorsed Mitt Romney for president in 2012, Romney called that backing “a delight” and added: "Im so honored and pleased to have his endorsement. ... Donald Trump has shown an extraordinary ability to understand how our economy works, to create jobs for the American people. Hes done it here in Nevada. Hes done it across the country.”

Four years later, Romney was shocked — shocked — that Trump was edging toward winning the Republican presidential nomination. “His bankruptcies have crushed small businesses and the men and women who worked for them,” Romney warned in March. “He inherited his business, he didnt create it. … Dishonesty is Trumps hallmark. … He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants. … Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. Hes playing the American public for suckers.”

Most of what Romney noted about Trump this year was true and easily ascertainable in 2012. So is Romney upset that Trump is playing the American people for suckers, or that Trump is better than Romney at playing us for suckers? Because comparing what Romney told us in 2012 and in 2016, Romney sure seems to think Americans are fools.

In 1992, presidential candidate Bill Clinton repudiated African-American rapper Sister Souljah’s (arguably) racist comments about why blacks might be justified in killing whites. Clinton was in the middle of his political campaign. He didn’t need to say anything about her or her remarks, but he spoke up. It was a risky gesture — appealing to white moderates, yet potentially alienating to a loyal part of his own political base.

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