Donald Trump, at a rally in New Mexico on Monday night, implied one of his supporters was too light-skinned to be Hispanic.
The US president said of Steve Cortes, a member of his Hispanic advisory council: “He happens to be Hispanic, but I’ve never quite figured it out, because he looks more like a Wasp than I do.”
Now a somewhat old-fashioned term, Wasp is an abbreviation for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.
The president went on that there is nobody who “loves his country more or Hispanics more” than Cortes and, bizarrely, asked him which he prefers.
Trump said: “He says the country. I don’t know. I may have to go for the Hispanics, to be honest with you. We’ve got a lot of Hispanics. We love our Hispanics. Get out and vote.”
Cortes has been a longtime supporter of the president. This week he wrote an article for the Florida Daily headlined: President Trump Has Earned Hispanics’ Trust.
Trump added that Cortes had been sidelined from his role as a CNN political commentator because he was too positive about the president. “You were incredible on CNN, and now you’ll get a real job, OK? Steve, that audience wasn’t big enough for you. The ratings aren’t good.”
Trump coming to California to raise money, but keeping details secret
Recent research by Priorities USA, a Democratic Super Pac campaign group, found Trump’s standing with Latino voters sits at just 20% approval in Arizona and 26% in Nevada, though he fares better in Florida with a 42% approval rating.
At Monday’s rally in Rio Rancho, he delivered a rambling speech that lasted more than an hour and a half. “Trump 2020”, “Women for Trump”, and “Latinos for Trump” signs were sprinkled through the crowd.
He made a pocketbook appeal for re-election in the Democratic-leaning state, telling voters that his energy policies had made the state wealthier and warning that the gains could disappear if the proposal known as the Green New Deal takes effect.
“The Democrats want to completely annihilate New Mexico’s economy,” claimed Trump, who boasted that an oil and gas boom during his administration had helped increase the state’s revenues. “The Democrats will never get the chance because New Mexico will never give them that chance.”
Trump went to New Mexico, which has not backed a Republican for president since 2004, to try to turn the state red and expand his grip on the electoral college in next year’s presidential election.
Trump’s rally is the first stop on a three-day swing that will also take him to California for fundraisers expected to raise more than $15m.
Trump has generally held his rallies in Republican-friendly terrain. Monday’s rally represents a striking departure from that practice and demonstrates a campaign with the resources to try to turn a few Democratic-leaning states his way, similar to what happened in 2016 with Michigan and Wisconsin.
Protesters, for their part, vowed to step up acts of civil disobedience and demonstrations.
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