The selection of Tulsa as the place where Trump returns to the stump and the date on which he is choosing to do it both suggest that Trump’s long-whispered-about race speech — in the wake of ongoing protests and unrest following the death of George Floyd — will happen next Friday, and at a campaign rally no less.
Its hard not to see this as intentional by the Trump campaign. While Oklahoma has no set limit on group gatherings, it’s not a swing state, so there’s no other obvious reason — other than to address racial issues — that Trump would stage his first rally in the state (and Tulsa particularly). And Trump could have done the rally on lots of days — 364 of them actually! — that don’t commemorate the emancipation of slaves.
“The African American community is very near and dear to his heart,” said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday of Trump’s planned Tulsa rally on Juneteenth. “He’s working on rectifying injustices. … So it’s a meaningful day to him and it’s a day where wants to share some of the progress that’s been made as we look forward and more that needs to be done.”
This, uh, seems like a very bad idea.
Now, it’s possible that the intended audience for this Tulsa rally isn’t actually African Americans but rather white women, particularly those who live in the suburbs, who have badly soured on Trump — and who see his handling of the Floyd protests as a sort of final straw. In giving a “race” speech, Trump and his team may well be aiming to bring some of those voters back around.
Because of everything he has said and done in his life on race and racial issues, Trump lacks credibility to give a speech like the one he appears ready to deliver next Friday night. You can’t simply flip a light switch and say you now get it on systemic racism and the ways in which the color of our skin still divides us.
Trump’s actions — like all of our actions — define us. And his actions on this issuer speak far louder than any words he could utter.
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