CNN noticed that Trump was cued to the local audience last Saturday
“You have good genes, you know that, right?” Trump said at a recent campaign rally. “You have good genes. A lot of it is about the genes, isn’t it, don’t you believe? The racehorse theory. You think we’re so different? You have good genes in Minnesota.”
The President was speaking to a nearly all-White crowd in Bemidji, Minnesota, a city that’s about 80% White in a state that’s even more White.
It’s a small observation but an important one: One we’ve seen before.
The tack of playing racial politics by taking refuge in abstraction has a long history in Republican circles.
“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘N****r, n****r, n****r.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘n****r’ — that hurts you, backfires,” the Republican political operative Lee Atwater said in 1981. “So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now (that) you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is (that) Blacks get hurt worse than Whites.”
Trump and his defenders might say that the President was merely talking about genes. But depending on who was listening, he was talking about much, much more.