President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hosted an event on Tuesday at the White House to commemorate women gaining the right to vote.
“The first lady and I are delighted to welcome the members of Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission to the White House to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women securing the right to vote,” Trump said. “That’s something.”
“I want to thank the commission members who have worked tirelessly for three years to tell the very powerful story of America’s suffrage and America’s suffrage movement,” Tump said.
But the reporters in the room were more interested in Trump reversing an Obama-era rule that aimed to force diversity into suburban neighborhoods in the guise of making every neighborhood accessible to people of all incomes.
In practice, that meant requiring neighborhoods in cities across America to allow the inclusion of multiple-unit and low-income housing.
Trump tweeted about the his effort along with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson:
The “suburban housewife” will be voting for me. They want safety & are thrilled that I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood. Biden would reinstall it, in a bigger form, with Corey Booker in charge! @foxandfriends @MariaBartiromo
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2020
Democrats and other Trump critics claimed this effort is a “dog whistle” to scare suburban white women into voting for him in November.
“Trump is racist and sexist and thinks he can use racism to motivate his supporters,” Josh Schwerin of Priorities USA Action, a political action committee that supports Democratic candidates, said in a USA Today report earlier the month. “Trump’s racism is one of the big reasons voters, including those in the suburbs he thinks he’s trying to appeal to here, are ready to get rid of him.”
A Reuters article claimed Trump doesn’t really understand the suburbs and, therefore, cannot appeal to voters who live there:
[Suburbs] have become more dense, more diverse and less centered on nuclear families. About 36% of the U.S. population now lives in a county that is classified as a suburb under a rubric developed by William Frey at the Brookings Institution, up from 33% in 2000.
Suburban counties still tend to be whiter than the rest of the country, while U.S. cities are more diverse
But the overall racial makeup of the major suburban counties is close to that of the country as a whole, based on Frey’s classification.
But based on Trump’s answer to a reporter’s question on the topic, it seems this view of the president is incorrect.
“My question is: When you speak to the suburban housewives of America, what do you — what do you view as the suburban woman voter? Is the suburban woman voter a suburban housewife, or is there more in your assessment?” a reporter asked.
“It’s a very fair question,” Trump said. “A great question, actually. Look, I view it very strongly that the suburban voter, the suburban housewife, women and men living in the suburbs — they want security and they want safety. They don’t want to have a lifetime of working hard and buying a house.” He went on to say:
And, by the way, 30 percent of the people living in suburbia are minority groups — African American, Hispanic American, Asian American. They’re minority groups. They don’t want to have their American Dream fulfilled and then have a low-income housing project built right next to their house or in the neighborhood. They don’t want it. That’s not part of the deal. And I terminated that.
And I think that the suburban housewife, as you say, and I think that women and men living in the suburbs who fulfilled their American Dream or at least got a big part of it, they now live in a safe, beautiful area. They don’t want to have people coming in and forcing low-income housing down their throats.
And you know what? People can say I’m a bad person for doing that, or they can say I’m a good person. But I think that suburban women very much appreciate what I did. I terminated it. This has been a hot issue for — before President Obama, but he took it to a new level.
“And Biden is going to take it to yet another level. In fact, they say that Cory Booker — there’s another beauty — that Cory Booker is involved. And if Cory Booker is involved, nothing good is going to happen.”
“It’s very unfair to suburbia — men, women; husbands, housewives — whatever you want to say,” Trump. said. “It’s very unfair. And I think it’s a very important issue, and I think they respect very much what I did. And nobody else would have had the guts to do it.”
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter