Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” network contributor John Heilemann weighed in on recent trips to swing-state Wisconsin by both President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting during a confrontation with Kenosha police officers.
Heilemann noted that Trump has been campaigning on the “sometimes explicitly racist” and “highly divisive” law and order issue but did not condemn violence from both sides like his opponent.
“From my experience, last week, being in Wisconsin through that period, the president was there, Joe Biden was there, the question of whether the president’s racially freighted, sometimes explicitly racist, highly divisive, highly exploitive use of the crime issue, the law and order issue to try to stoke fear in a part of the electorate that they believe is movable, that they think will make the difference for them in a state like Wisconsin,” Heilemann told host Joe Scarborough. “To see how it actually played out on the ground in Wisconsin I think was really instructive, which is that was a state Donald Trump won narrowly in 2016, by like 22,000 votes. Everyone has been focused on Wisconsin as potentially the most important of the battleground states in 2020. And what I kept hearing over and over again there, there are obviously a bunch of — the Republican Party has been Trumpified there, so the Trump base is very solid for Donald Trump. He has a lot of solid voters to work with in that state, but in the middle of the electorate, in the WOW counties as they call them, the moderate suburban Republican-dominated counties around Milwaukee and the suburbs, for instance, right, those Republicans were not big fans of Donald Trump in 2016, he lost the primary there by double digits.”
“They saw Joe Biden come to town and before he came to town give a speech in which he condemned rioting, he condemned looting, he condemned burning and said that is not protesting,” he continued. “And then also said he was on the side of racial justice and was on the side of those who want to reform the police, came to Kenosha and talked to the family of the victim, Jacob Blake. What they saw in Donald Trump was someone who actually behaved himself in a reasonable way on the ground in Kenosha, but the night before he came, not only would not follow Joe Biden’s lead and condemn violence on all sides but made an explicit defense of vigilantism on the part of Kyle Rittenhouse. … And for those voters in Wisconsin, that stoking of division, racial insensitivity, that kind of unwillingness to denounce violence in all its forms, that is what those voters do not want. And it is why I think it’s why Donald Trump is going to have trouble carrying the day in Wisconsin because those are the voters he desperately needs and who are desperately reacting against that kind of incendiary rhetoric.”
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