Having secured his place atop the Republican presidential ticket last week, Donald Trump had no real reason to visit Washington state over the weekend. Except perhaps to scout sites for a potential Mar-a-Lago Northwest.
The upcoming Washington primary was already wheezing for relevance before Ted Cruz and John Kasich met their Waterloos in Indiana. Then Trump’s runaway victory in the Hoosier State’s primary sucked the last breath out of the May 24 primary in the Evergreen State.
But give the billionaire credit: Instead of taking the weekend off to celebrate at home, catch up on business deals or work on a coherent foreign policy, he stayed with his plan to swing through the Pacific Northwest.
“We are going to take the state of Washington,” Trump declared at a Northwest Washington fairgrounds rally Saturday, and he wasn’t limiting his prediction to the primary.
It would be a pretty neat trick for a Republican to win Washington in November for the first time since Ronald Reagan’s landslide in 1984. Trump faces an extra challenge because he’s a ragbag Republican, a dilettante who regards the party platform like an al a carte menu at one of his resorts. He must energize a GOP base here that won’t warm quickly to some of his positions — for instance, his anti-trade tirades in America’s most trade-dependent state.
Although Trump promised/threatened to campaign in Washington again before the general election, staging a pair of introductory rallies in Spokane and Whatcom counties was an interesting choice to set the tone for winning the state. Such a Trumpian feat would require him not only to show his face in King County, but also to win a majority of votes there, as Reagan did.
Then again, could this early visit to the hinterlands have been a calculated move to reach Washington’s rich tapestry of minority groups? Indeed, by choosing Lynden as his stage, Trump might have nailed down an elusive voting demographic: Dutch Americans.
Hey, he has to start somewhere.
Trump is sharp enough to realize he’s flailing among minorities, despite his best efforts to woo them the only way he knows how — through obnoxious stereotypes. “Happy #CincoDeMayo!” he tweeted Thursday while eating Mexican food for lunch. “The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!”
At his Western Washington rally two days later, Trump trotted out his familiar refrain against illegal immigration: He promised again to build a “beautiful wall” to keep out border crossers. Presumably he meant an attractive barricade at the Mexican border, not at the Canadian border a mere five miles from Lynden, because that would be absurd. Like, something one would see in an episode of “South Park.” In fact, it was an episode of “South Park.”
Everyone knows that if a beautiful wall ever were built between the U.S. and Canada, it would be erected by them to stop an exodus of us fleeing north after Trump is elected president.
The candidate’s sensitivity on matters of diversity and national security was further magnified Saturday when he cited the stream of Syrian refugees pouring into Washington. (The actual infux? About 50 Syrians over the last year and a half, according to the state office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance.)
“I have a big heart,” said Trump, who has said he would keep Syrians out of the U.S. by establishing “beautiful safe zones” in their country.
It takes the hubris of Nebuchadnezzar for a man to believe he could carve an oasis in the war-ravaged desert. And it takes a clueless sense of timing to suggest it again just a few days after at least 28 civilians, including women and children, were killed in the bombing of a theoretically safe refugee camp near the Turkish border.
Washingtonians should consider Trump’s towering insights and big heart, and remember them this month during an election that doesn’t matter. More to the point, they should remember them in November during an election that does.