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As Donald Trump faces corporate boycotts over his recent comments deriding Mexican immigrants, his remarks are also dividing Republicans, and their conservative constituencies, by forcing them to reconcile their “tough-on-immigration,” “secure-the-border” rhetoric with their hopes of garnering more Latino votes than the Democrats in 2016.

In his June announcement launching his presidential campaign, Trump said: “When Mexico sends its people [to the United States], they’re not sending their best…. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Republicans, and especially other candidates seeking the GOP presidential nomination, have been forced to state publicly whether they stand with Trump on immigration policy.

Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, called Trump’s comments “not helpful,” while former Florida governor Jeb Bush distanced himself from Trump, saying he disagreed with Trump’s comments. Texas senator Ted Cruz recently said on Fox News that Trump “speaks the truth.”

New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who recently announced his own presidential bid, said Trump’s comments were “wholly inappropriate.”

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who is not running for president, defended Trump’s remarks, saying critics had taken his statements out of context.

Conservative business interests are singing a different tune. In a June 30 statement, touting the entrepreneurial credentials of the United States’ immigrant community, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants represent “an extreme and exclusionary position that has no basis in fact and is completely inappropriate in our national political discourse.”

Joining Univision, NBC, and Macy’s boycotts of Trump businesses, the Hispanic Chamber said it will not consider Trump hotels as possible locations for its 2016 National Convention in Miami, Florida, or its 2016 Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C. Likely fearing consumer boycotts, the business community is running from Trump, seeking to push him further away from the Republican mainstream, while Trump, ever the consummate businessman, is breaking ties with any company that seeks to blacklist him.

Criticizing Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for blaming immigrants for a declining middle class in the United States, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has said, “Politicians promote misleading facts about immigration to rile up their political base.” The Chamber might as well have been talking about Trump.

But by playing to the GOP’s right-wing base, Trump’s comments are forcing Republicans to reconsider their hardline stances on securing the border and not offering “amnesty” to undocumented immigrants, causing splits within the GOP over immigration. Republicans want (and desperately need) to court Latino voters nationally, so while moderate Republicans are trying not to alienate potential GOP voters, Trump and the Tea Party faithful prefer sticking with their nativist, scorched-earth rhetoric.

Which explains why Democrats are rejoicing that Trump is becoming the face of the Republican Party. “His outlandish rhetoric and skill at occupying the national spotlight are also proving to be dangerously toxic for the GOP brand, which remains in the rehabilitation stage after losing the 2012 presidential race,” reports The Washington Post.

In 2014, 62 percent of Latinos reported voting Democratic in their congressional district race, according to the Pew Research Center. And in the 2012 presidential election, President Obama had a 44-point advantage over Republican challenger Mitt Romney when it came to Latino voters.

If Republicans hope to win the White House in 2016, winning over more Latino voters will certainly play a large role. The problem for the GOP is not just limited to one well-known Republican candidate’s dramatic, outspoken racism. More so, it’s the fact that Trump’s stance has shined a spotlight on the party’s deeply entrenched xenophobia, and now every candidate has to acknowledge it.

More and more, it doesn’t seem possible for Republicans to have their border-wall-and-deportations cake, and eat more Latino votes, too.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Trump speaking at Londonderry, NH rally

Screenshot from YouTube

Donald Trump once again baselessly claimed on Sunday that the COVID-19 pandemic was "going to be over" soon, just hours after his chief of staff suggested the administration was unable to get it under control.

"Now we have the best tests, and we are coming around, we're rounding the turn," Trump said at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. "We have the vaccines, we have everything. We're rounding the turn. Even without the vaccines, we're rounding the turn, it's going to be over."

Trump has made similar claims on repeated occasions in the past, stating early on in the pandemic that the coronavirus would go away on its own, then with the return of warmer weather.

That has not happened: Over the past several weeks, multiple states have seen a surge in cases of COVID-19, with some places, including Utah, Texas, and Wisconsin, setting up overflow hospital units to accommodate the rapidly growing number of patients.

Hours earlier on Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows appeared to contradict Trump, telling CNN that there was no point in trying to curb the spread of the coronavirus because it was, for all intents and purposes, out of their control.

"We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas," he said. "Because it is a contagious virus, just like the flu."

Meadows doubled own on Monday, telling reporters, "We're going to defeat the virus; we're not going to control it."

"We will try to contain it as best we can, but if you look at the full context of what I was talking about, we need to make sure that we have therapeutics and vaccines, we may need to make sure that when people get sick, that, that they have the kind of therapies that the president of the United States had," he added.Public health experts, including those in Trump's own administration, have made it clear that there are two major things that could curb the pandemic's spread: mask wearing and social distancing.

But Trump has repeatedly undermined both, expressing doubt about the efficacy of masks and repeatedly ignoring social distancing and other safety rules — even when doing so violated local and state laws.

Trump, who recently recovered from COVID-19 himself, openly mocked a reporter on Friday for wearing a mask at the White House — which continues to be a hotspot for the virus and which was the location of a superspreader event late last month that led to dozens of cases. "He's got a mask on that's the largest mask I think I've ever seen. So I don't know if you can hear him," Trump said as his maskless staff laughed alongside him.

At the Manchester rally on Sunday, Trump also bragged of "unbelievable" crowd sizes at his mass campaign events. "There are thousands of people there," he claimed, before bashing former Vice President Joe Biden for holding socially distant campaign events that followed COVID safety protocols.

"They had 42 people," he said of a recent Biden campaign event featuring former President Barack Obama. "He drew flies, did you ever hear the expression?"

Last Monday, Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) endorsed Biden's approach to the pandemic as better than Trump's, without "any doubt."

"The more we go down the road resisting masks and distance and tracing and the things that the scientists are telling us, I think the more concerned I get about our management of the COVID situation," he told CNN.

In his final debate against Biden last Thursday, Trump was asked what his plan was to end the pandemic. His answer made it clear that, aside from waiting for a vaccine, he does not have one.

"There is a spike, there was a spike in Florida and it's now gone. There was a very big spike in Texas — it's now gone. There was a spike in Arizona, it is now gone. There are spikes and surges in other places — they will soon be gone," he boasted. "We have a vaccine that is ready and it will be announced within weeks and it's going to be delivered. We have Operation Warp Speed, which is the military is going to distribute the vaccine."

Experts have said a safe vaccine will likely not be ready until the end of the year at the earliest, and that most people will not be able to be vaccinated until next year.

Trump also bragged Sunday that he had been "congratulated by the heads of many countries on what we have been able to do," without laying out any other strategy for going forward.

Nationally, new cases set a single-day record this weekend, with roughly 84,000 people testing positive each day. More than 8.5 million Americans have now contracted the virus and about 225,000 have died.

Trump, by contrast, tweeted on Monday that he has "made tremendous progress" with the virus, while suggesting that it should be illegal for the media to report on it before the election.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.