Donald Trump says that because the press has “misconstrued” his comments about the judge in the Trump University case, Gonzalo Curiel, he will no longer comment about the matter while it is being litigated.
In a lengthy written statement issued Tuesday afternoon, Trump sought to temper the criticism he was facing without apologizing for his remarks. He said it is “unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage. I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent.”
Trump added that he does not believe that “one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial,” but he continued to question whether Curiel has been impartial in the case.
“Based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case,” he said, “I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial.”
Trump said he will no longer comment on the case. It is scheduled for trial in November — after the presidential election.
In recent days, Trump continued to attack Curiel even as senior Republican officials and strategists implored him to tone down his criticism of the judge, particularly with regards to his ethnic background. Trump doubled down — and in so doing drew more attention to the Trump University lawsuit and emboldened critics who have long accused him of racism.
Republicans and Democrats alike have blasted the remarks. Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday that “claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment.”
Democrats see the case as an opportunity to call into question Trump’s temperament, his attitudes about race relations and his business practices.
Someone, probably not in Trump’s inner circle, finally got through to the candidate and had him back off. Beyond the hysteria ginned up by Democrats and the press, there is a frightening obliviousness by to what’s happening outside his circle of advisors. Virtually no Republican was coming to his defense. Even allies were criticizing him. And yet he persisted in his jihad against a judge who refuses to see the case against his fraudulent education scheme the way he does.
Trump doesn’t get it. It’s Politics 101: You don’t win elections by pissing people off at you. You win elections by pissing people off at your opponent.
Reports this week that there is nothing worthy of being called a “Trump campaign” is validating everything his critics have been saying about him since he announced his candidacy:
Veteran operatives are shocked by the campaign’s failure to fill key roles. There is no communications team to deal with the hundreds of media outlets covering the race, no rapid response director to quickly rebut attacks and launch new ones, and a limited cast of surrogates who lack a cohesive message.
“They don’t or can’t cover it all, and there are things that happen that need to be addressed immediately and don’t get addressed at all, and that hurts the candidate,” a source within the campaign groused last month.
The campaign is bringing on a new senior staffer Jim Murphy, as first reported by The New York Times, and a source said more communications hires are expected to follow. But they lag far behind the Clinton campaign, which has over a dozen senior staff dedicated to communications as well as teams devoted to modern data and analytics, an area where Trump is publicly skeptical of hiring. In addition, Clinton enjoys support from established super PACs like Correct The Record and American Bridge that respond to attacks and promote opposition research.
Aides appeared unprepared for the Trump University story last week, despite knowing in advance that unsealed court documents would reveal explosive allegations of fraud. Beyond a short video of former students praising the program that was posted online, the campaign offered scant pushback.
These sorts of things matter — hugely. Clinton is going to steamroll Trump with attack after attack and if the Republican’s campaign doesn’t respond, those attacks are going to stick. Just ask Mitt Romney who had no money between June and the convention to answer the tidal wave of charges from Democrats about him being rich, unfeeling, and out of touch with ordinary people. By the time the campaign got around to answering those charges, it was far too late.
Trump needs an intervention or at least someone to say “no” to him. Right now, his staff are his worst enablers and unless big changes are made, and the candidate learns the value of self-discipline, he is going to be embarrassed in November.