LOS ANGELES, California — Breitbart News senior editor-at-large and in-house counsel Joel B. Pollak told the audience at the main stage at PolitiCon Sunday that Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election because of three words: trade, immigration, and Islam.
Moderator Mike Allen of Axios asked Pollak and each of the panelists — former Trump campaign communications director Jason Miller; veteran Democratic political strategist James Carville; Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol; and liberal CNN contributor Paul Begala — to summarize Trump’s win in a single sentence.
Kristol said: The Republican primary electorate especially — to some degree the general electorate — were more susceptible to an authoritarian demagogue than I thought they would be.” The largely liberal audience applauded.
Pollak said: “Trade, immigration, and terrorism.” There were cheers, and a few boos.
He continued: “He spoke about issues that other candidates were largely ignoring, and that’s why he won.”
Allen interjected: “Now, you wouldn’t think that the Breitbart editor-at-large would be the politically correct guy, but it wasn’t ‘terrorism’ — you said backstage it was ‘Islam.'”
“Right,” Pollak said. He then elaborated:
The previous administration and much of the media had very carefully tried to detach Islam from terrorism. And the rest of the country — particularly the Republican side, but not uniquely — found that that didn’t really match their experience of the threat, from what they were seeing on the news overseas in Europe, from their experience on 9/11 and thereafter. And Trump connected the two directly, and that tapped into a very strong current in the electorate. In fact, polls have shown that when Trump proposed his “Muslim ban” — which was rolled back — that was the single issue that most united Trump supporters across all the different political and socioeconomic categories. That was the one issue that was polling highest.
Paul Begala disagreed, claiming that Russia was a major factor, as was former FBI director James Comey’s decision to re-open the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server, just days before the election:
“77,447 people combined was the Trump margin in Pennsylvania, plus Ohio, plus Wisconsin,” he said. “Anybody who thinks the Russia hacking and the [James] Comey intervention didn’t swing 77,447 votes is out of their mind.”