One of the most overlooked moments in Tuesday night’s Republican debate came at the very beginning. Donald Trump, asked whether he’d support a hike in the minimum wage, instead digressed into saying, “Wages [are] too high,” in making the case for corporate competitiveness. And he repeated the same keep-wages-low talking point Wednesday morning on Morning Joe, apparently not recognizing the potential backlash he created. Even though he was answering a question about the minimum wage, his remarks (in both cases) sounded like he was talking broadly about the economy.
Trump, for those not paying attention, has been advancing a campaign message that he’s a traitor to his class. One of his most effective lines is that he knows that politicians are controlled by wealthy donors because he was once one of those wealthy donors. He supports tax hikes on the most wealthy and argues, “The hedge fund guys have been getting away with murder.” He has been an outspoken critic of free-trade deals and promises to act tougher with China (on “stealing” American jobs) and Mexico (over immigration), further establishing his populist bona fides. His central appeal is that he’s promising to bring the skills that made him wealthy to enrich the broader public.
Which is why Trump’s flub could be so consequential. Trump’s political base is dominated by working-class voters who have been devastated by the recession and subsequent slow recovery. Many of them are drawn to Trump because they believe his tough persona and negotiating prowess will reverse America’s economic decline—and with it, raise their own wages. Trump is running against the Wall Street wing of the Republican Party, but with his affinity for low corporate wages, he pitted himself against many of the populists he’s wooing.
“If you find somebody who can move the Trump image, from billionaire mogul with swagger and morph him into a heartless CEO jerk, this is a different race,” said Republican media consultant Rick Wilson. “But are his voters going to be more receptive to his argument on immigration than they are on wages. That’s the big question.”
It’s very possible that, like many other Trump comments that are initially seen as damaging gaffes, this latest off-message comment will do him little damage. Recent polls have shown Trump’s supporters as more loyal to their candidate than those of other candidates. But what makes this line different is it goes against his own supporters’ interests. They may not care if Trump is rude to Megyn Kelly, or mocks John McCain’s military service, but when his comments directly impact their own bottom line, the reaction could be different.
One defining feature of the Republican presidential primary so far is that many Republicans have been hesitant to go after Trump, fearing the backlash they’ll inevitably get by taking on a candidate who lashes out against anyone who goes after him. But he just gifted a sound bite for an enterprising Republican challenger to use against him—and cut into his overwhelming support among blue-collar voters.
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"North Korea said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean after President Donald Trump vowed to destroy the reclusive country, with leader Kim Jong Un promising to make Trump pay dearly for his threats. Kim did not specify what action he would take against the United States or Trump, whom he called a 'mentally deranged U.S. dotard' in the latest bout of insults the two leaders have traded in recent weeks."
President Trump this afternoon announced another round of sanctions on North Korea, calling the regime "a continuing threat." The executive order, which Trump relayed to Congress, bans any ship or plane that has visited North Korea from visiting the United States within 180 days. The order also authorizes sanctions on any financial institution doing business with North Korea, and permits the secretaries of State and the Treasury to sanction any person involved in trading with North Korea, operating a port there, or involved in a variety of industries there.
In response to a reporter's question, President Trump said "he’ll be looking to impose further financial penalties on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic tests. ... The U.N. has passed two resolutions recently aimed at squeezing the North Korean economy by cutting off oil, labor and exports to the nation." Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that South Korea's unification ministry is sending an $8m aid package aimed at infants and pregnant women in North Korea. The "humanitarian gesture [is] at odds with calls by Japan and the US for unwavering economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang."
President Trump on Tuesday night met with UN Secretary Guterres and President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak. In both cases, as per releases from the White House, Trump pressed them on the need to reform the UN bureaucracy.