Thursday, July 18, 2019
By David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner
A top Republican Jewish leader is defending President Trump against charges of racism, saying the controversy over his attacks against four nonwhite Democratic representatives would be remembered as the moment he won reelection.
Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, declined to absolve Trump of using racist or xenophobic rhetoric, as it has been described by critics, to attack “the squad" — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. The group has been sharply critical of Trump and called for impeachment. But Brooks insisted that suggestions that Trump is prejudiced are meritless, predicting that the Democratic Party’s handling of the episode would rally swing voters to the president’s side.
“This is the week that’s going to define the campaign going forward,” Brooks said in an interview with Behind Closed Doors, a Washington Examiner podcast. “The most important thing here is the contrast between where the president and the Republicans are and where the center of gravity is in the Democratic Party, which is moving more and more progressively left.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition is the premier group working to turn Jewish voters, around 75% of whom are Democrats, into Republicans. The organization supports an American foreign policy that strongly supports Israel.
The coalition has been closely allied with Trump and was especially appreciative of his keeping a campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Past presidents supported the move in concept but always declined to act.
In a series of Twitter posts and subsequent statements, Trump said the group of liberal firebrands should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
All four are citizens, and only Omar is a naturalized American. Brooks said he understood why some might find Trump’s rhetoric unacceptable.
“I am not in a position to be an arbiter of this,” he said. “There are people who feel that way and they are entitled to their views. and I understand as somebody who comes from — not personally but a couple of generations away from folks who came as immigrants to this country.”
But Brooks emphasized that the president had no ill intent and attributed his choice of words to the pugilistic style that voters have come to expect from him since he launched his first campaign for president four years ago. The Democrats, he said, are overplaying their hands, especially with calls to decriminalize illegal immigration and abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
“The Democrats, as they are wont to do, have played right into the president’s hands,” Brooks said. Senior Republican strategists disagree with that assessment.
“The one thing we know about Donald Trump is, Donald Trump is a fighter. Somebody punches at him, he’s going to punch back and often times harder than they punched at him. Does he sometimes say things that get people riled up and offended? Yes. But that is who he is,” Brooks added.
© 2019 Washington Examiner. This article appeared on the Washington Examiner web site on July 18, 2019.