Trump Stump

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump makes a stop in Phoenix to meet with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Both have made political gains because of their stances on illegal immigration. Arizona State University Political Science Professor Rudy Espino will talk about Trump’s political strategy.

TED SIMONS: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," we'll talk about the political strategy behind Donald trump's presidential campaign. And we'll have a debate on the governor's plan to use state trust land money to fund education. Those stories next on "Arizona Horizon".

"Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

TED SIMONS: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm TED SIMONS. Republican presidential candidate Donald trump made a much publicized campaign stop this weekend at the Phoenix convention center. Here to talk about trump's campaign strategy is ASU political science professor RUDY ESPINO. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

RUDY ESPINO: Thank you for having me.

TED SIMONS: Is Donald trump is serious presidential candidate?

RUDY ESPINO: Define serious. Right now, his strategy is effective because what he is doing is keeping his name -- he has that name brand recognition, and his goal is effective for the short-term. He wants to be able to make it into the republican primary debates. There is that cut-off. It is a very crowded field. His polling numbers show he will make it.

TED SIMONS: Is he a viable presidential candidate? Is there a chance in the world he could be sitting in the oval office?

RUDY ESPINO: I think it is very slim that he would be sitting in the oval office. While his short-term strategy is effective to make that primary debate, once he moves to the general election and he looks at certain battle ground states, he has offended a lot of swing voters, especially in certain battleground states that have a Latino electorate, Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina, Florida, you know, he has alienated that block of voters.
TED SIMONS: He says that he is going to charge Mexico $100,000 for every undocumented person crossing the border. That Mexican government is sending undesirables, much like the Cuban boat lift situation, sending undesirables to America. What is he saying here?

RUDY ESPINO: He is playing a race card. He is appealing to what you might call a nativist based what he is saying does resonate with certain voters, but they are not the majority of voters when it comes to the general election.

TED SIMONS: Famous quote, they're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists, and some, I assume are good people. What is he saying there?

RUDY ESPINO: He has back tracked a little bit. When being called out on some of the quotes. Said no, I love Mexico. I think they are great people. At the same time, he is saying offensive things that Latino voters come next year will not forget.

TED SIMONS: You mentioned native is the element there, but why is he doing as well as he is doing with republican voters?

RUDY ESPINO: Well, look at who is the block that he is appealing to. They are not the majority of the electorate but what he is saying does resonate to certain voters that subscribe to opinion or belief that jobs being taken away, our country is being taking away by these hordes of illegals swarming across the boarder taking jobs away from true Americans.

TED SIMONS: Is there a region of the country where you could say it was his base, stronghold?

RUDY ESPINO: Well, certain states that probably have seen a significant rise in the Latino population, which explains why he came here over the weekend. We have had that rhetoric going on for decades. The person at the forefront, our own sheriff Arpaio.

TED SIMONS: Who appeared with him. He said he refers to the silent majority in his speech, now those of us old enough to remember that decades ago we haven't heard it recently, what is he saying with that?

RUDY ESPINO: He is saying our country has been taken away, and that silent majority quote goes back to Nixon and it was an effective strategy the famous Nixon ad, protest riots, cities burning down, showing riots in urban Los Angeles, which we have been having recently. It has been in the news with all of the protests in Ferguson. The protests even in south Carolina. And to say something to that base that says, hey, your country has been taken away. You have been quiet too long. Put me in office and I will help you take our country back is what he is saying.

TED SIMONS: I think the quote in Phoenix is don't worry, we will take our country back. And that is appealing to folks, the silent majority, who see jobs leaving, who see values leaving, morals leaving, the whole nine yards.

RUDY ESPINO: Yes, Jobs being outsourced or taken by newer immigrants, people opposed to affirmative action laws. That message is resonating with that group of voters.

TED SIMONS: As far as Republican party again in the primary, he says he inspires more than Mitt Romney. Is that correct?

RUDY ESPINO: At this point yes. He is a flamboyant character. When you go see him, you don't know what you are going to get. It is a circus show frankly and people may like to see the show right now. But moving forward, what voters will want is somebody in the White House who is going to be presidential. What he is, how he is acting right now, what he is saying now is not acting presidential. Where he is just screaming and yelling it reminds me of the Howard dean moment, the infamous Howard Dean scream. That is not acting presidential, that lead to his downfall and I think the same think will happen with trump.

TED SIMONS: Is he a stalking horse for another candidate? By criticizing Donald trump, are you making him more popular? By not criticizing Donald trump, are you setting yourself up for perhaps getting this block?

RUDY ESPINO: Ya, I think it is a republican candidates peril if they don't come out with a forceful statement saying that I disagree with these statements. I think the person that probably has said the most about this is Jeb Bush, running neck and neck and most recognizable name. And with his background being married to a Mexican woman, having a Mexican child, and has been asked this question and put on the spot with a lot of what trump has been saying.

TED SIMONS: What is bush saying?

RUDY ESPINO: Not saying it too harshly, I disagree with those statements. Not being very forceful about it.

TED SIMONS: Donald trump, I will get the Hispanics, you watch. Is that possible?

RUDY ESPINO: With what he has been saying lately, no. First of all, Hispanic voters lean democratic. But moving to the general election, what republican candidates always have to pay attention to is that magic number. That George bush achieved, 40% of the Latino vote in '04. Kept him in office. Mitt Romney knew that when he was running for president, but what Romney said in the primaries affected him moving to the general. Latino voters did not forget what he had said, shifted far to the right with respect to certain statements, things about deportation and immigration reform.

TED SIMONS: Yes, indeed. Okay. How much damage then to republican to the dynamic, the republican Latino dynamic, how much damage is being done?

RUDY ESPINO: I think a lot. I think that is evidenced by seeing certain republican leaders, such as our senators, flake, McCain, RNC chairman even coming out and saying, look, you're hurting us, hurting the brand name. The brand name is already damaged based on previous actions of republican candidates. And in order for a republican to want to win the White House, they have to pay attention to the Latino electorate. That is significant in certain battle ground states such as our neighbors, Colorado, Nevada. If you can't win that vote in those states, you have no chance getting into the White House.

TED SIMONS: Back to the stalking horse argument, could it not be said he is so far over here on one side it allows presidential candidates come in and look more magnanimous and more concerned regarding immigration in the process because they are not Donald Trump.

RUDY ESPINO: Well it remains to be seen. And I think what we want to watch is how that debate will transpire. I guarantee the debate with 10 republican presidential candidates and trump on the stage, his position, his comments on Mexican immigrants in this country will be a source of contention that will come up, and I think that will be, you know, a way to test whether it is hurting these other republican candidates or not.

TED SIMONS: Last question before you go. Compare him to Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwarzenegger, other larger than life folks who got into and were successful in politics.

RUDY ESPINO: You have certain actors, athletes that are able to launch themselves into politics. Why? Because of the name recognition. That is what trump is enjoying right now. If you look at some of the actors and athletes, they're not out there flamboyant and as wild as trump has been lately. So, you know, he is just living on his name recognition right now. The statements that he is doing, the tide that he is losing, he is thinking himself.

TED SIMONS: Good to have you here. Thank you for joining us.

RUDY ESPINO: Thank you.

Rudy Espino : Arizona State University Political Science Professor

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