Palm Beach, Fla.-Mar-a-Lago was terribly quiet. Hurricane shutters still have many windows covered, and piles of sod are waiting to be planted along the main driveway in preparation for the club’s official Nov. 1 opening. A receptionist led me into the official lobby: a spacious room with a high ceiling and a royal view of the club’s west lawn. It was grand, guild and glorious – a fitting expression of Donald Trump’s ubiquitous brand.
After waiting a while, a press assistant to Trump took me to a small room where there was a single round table with a fireplace, a wooden bar and four chairs. After a while, 45M The US President entered, waved my hand and took the seat. Apparently a waiter appeared somewhere to present Trump – what else? – A can of diet coke and a glass of ice.
And with that, we continued the 90-minute free-conversation from China, the Afghanistan War, and Covid-19 to the latest book by General Mark Millie, George W. Bush, and Bob Woodward.
Part 1 of the three-part series on RealClearPolitics in Trump’s interview discusses why Trump exceeded expectations with Hispanic voters in 2020.
“Our borders were so perfect,” Donald Trump lamented. We’re just minutes away from our interview in Mar-a-Lago, and he’s already taken the discussion to one of his favorite topics.
“You look at the border, the countries are emptying their prisons, we’re like a dumping ground,” Trump said. “In my opinion, this country has changed so much in eight months, more than it has changed in its history.”
Trump called Joe Biden’s handling of the border issue “the most unworthy thing I’ve ever seen,” until I saw the withdrawal of the Afghans. “
If Trump’s rhetoric seems familiar, because it is. When he famously stepped down the escalator of Trump Tower to announce his candidacy for the presidency on June 1, 2015, he wasted no time in attacking the leaders of both political parties for failing to protect American interests in trade and immigration.
“We’re a dumping ground for everyone’s problems,” Trump said before continuing his now infamous line about Mexico not sending its “best” people to the border:
“They are sending people who have a lot of problems and they are bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists and some are my idea, good people.
Trump’s harsh language about illegal immigrants has shocked not only liberals and journalists, but also Republicans, who conducted an “autopsy” of the 2012 election just two years ago, specifically to explain Mitt Romney’s disappointing performance with minority voters. Hispanic. Exit polls show Romney receiving only 27% support from Hispanic voters, the worst since the GOP presidential candidate since Bob Dole in 1996.
The proposed solution to establishing the party was to discuss illegal immigration and a more inclusive way of throwing its collective weight behind Washington’s “comprehensive immigration reform.” After Trump chose the opposite approach, it was common knowledge in 2016 that his tough stance and bold rhetoric would hurt him in the general election. That did not happen.
Instead, Trump won a higher percentage of Hispanic votes than Romney, while the overall advantage of Democrats has shrunk by eight percentage points with this population. Four years later, Trump increased his share of Hispanic votes to 32%, according to exit polls, but even reduced his power. Trump won 10% of Hispanic votes, up 10 points from 201, according to a Pew Research Center poll of valid voters for the 2020 election.
Why, I ask Trump, did you do so well with Hispanics in 2020?
“I think they know I love them. I have deep respect for them. They are very enterprising people. Very smart and energetic people, and they see I’m doing the right thing, “he said. “They also know that I am strict at the border, and strict at immigration. And they knew better than anyone else that the border was important. A lot of people thought I was going to hit myself with Hispanics with my tough position on the border. No, they don’t want people to come and take their jobs, their homes.
Trump’s significant gains in the majority Hispanic counties on the Texas border were nothing short of eye-popping. He averaged 26.8% of the vote, including 88.8% of the average population in 17 counties in South Texas. Trump recalled receiving news of his performance in Border County over the phone from Governor Greg Abbott: “He said, ‘We can’t believe it; the numbers you’ve got since the Reconstruction are the highest. The best numbers we’ve seen since the Civil War.’
Trump said Hispanic voters said, “I understand better than anyone that I’m doing the right thing for their lives, their crimes, their jobs.” He benefited immensely from Hispanic voters in Florida, especially in Miami-Dade County, the historic Democratic stronghold of Mi.
“Democrats can’t believe Hispanic numbers; They never thought they would see it, “said Trump. “If you look at the results in Miami: Cuba, Venezuela, you see the numbers in Miami – they’re on the roof. The Republicans in Miami are destroyed, and I almost won Miami and then the rest of the state was mine.
She is right. Trump has won 455% of Hispanics in Florida, including 58% of Cuban heritage. In 2016, he lost to Miami-Dade by Hillary Clinton by percentage percentage points. Four years later, he lost the county to Cow Biden by just seven points on his way to a three-point statewide victory.
In light of his success with Hispanic voters, I ask Trump to hold on to what the Republican Party should gain, as the GOP sees in the middle of next year and beyond. He gave the shortest answer in our full 0-minute interview: “They have to hold on to Donald Trump.”