Trump’s blunder eclipses Hillary’s big night
WASHINGTON – Hillary Clinton has become the first woman presidential nominee, but the historic feat is being overshadowed by a colossal Donald Trump blunder, requiring him to address the resultant breach in his badly shaken Republican ranks.
His petty attack on a federal judge of “Mexican heritage” presiding over a civil suit involving defunct Trump University has not only elevated that case, which alleges fraud against its students, as a campaign issue. It also calls into question his claim to be a master deal-maker whose skill qualifies him to run the country.
Furthermore, the whole saga provides voters with a sharp contrast between Clinton’s central theme of bringing the country together and Trump’s politics of ethnic, religious and racial division. Under the phony rubric of “making America great again,” he seems determined to tear it further apart.
This outcome is particularly telling within the party whose nomination is now in Trump’s grasp. Leading Republican leaders who have reluctantly endorsed him, starting with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have now denounced his contention that the judge, born in Indiana of Mexican immigrants, could not for that reason give him a fair trial.
On the final big primary night, Trump in a rare use of a teleprompter delivered a scripted speech thanking the voters who gave him victories in all of Tuesday’s primaries and vowing to continue to be a “fighter.” The only allusion he offered then to the controversy swirling around his remarks was to say, “I will never ever back down, and our country will ever back down.”
On the final big primary night, Trump swept all the Republican contests and Clinton won four of the six Democratic races, including California, New Jersey, South Dakota and New Mexico, with rival Sen. Bernie Sanders salvaging Montana and North Dakota.
Trump pointedly noted as the campaign moved into general-election mode that he would continue to target not only Hillary Clinton but also her husband the former president. At one point, he accused her as President Obama’s secretary of state of turning the Department of State “into a personal hedge fund,” presumably for the benefit their charitable Clinton Foundation.
Meanwhile, she congratulated Sanders on his surprisingly effective campaign and said she would be conferring with him on ways they could achieve mutually desirable progressive goals, including the defeat of Trump in November.
Amid much pressure now to join forces with Hillary Clinton as she takes on the stop-Trump effort that failed so conspicuously in the hands of Trump’s Republican primary opponents, Sanders will be adhering to the wishes of his diehard faithful for at least one more week.
But after the California defeat, which denied him a final toehold in the race, what is left for him now is to gain Democratic platform objectives and the good will of the party he so recently joined, in what is now a heightened goal of barring any prospect of a Trump election in November. Thanks to the celebrity billionaire’s self-destructing mouth, that ominous peril seems much less likely now to occur by the end of this bizarre political campaign.
Jules Witcover is a nationally syndicated columnist