A week at Trump's wild rallies
The Guardian’s Ed Pilkington spent a week traveling the country to cover Donald Trump’s political rallies. He writes:
There is no understanding Donald Trump without understanding his rallies.
They are the crucible of the Trump revolution, the laboratory where he turns his alternative reality into a potion to be sold to his followers. It is at his rallies that his radical reimagining of the US constitution takes shape: not “We the people”, but “We my people”.
As America reels from a gunman killing 11 Jewish worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue; pipe bombs being sent to 14 of the US presidents’ leading opponents, and Trump declaring himself a nationalist and sending thousands of troops to the US border to assail unarmed asylum-seekers; the most powerful person on earth continues to rely on his rallies as seething cauldrons of passion.
And that’s not all. Trump is using them as a test run for his 2020 bid for re-election.
Which is why I have criss-crossed the country, from Montana and Wisconsin in the north to Texas in the south, Arizona in the west to North Carolina in the east, to observe the president delivering his message to his people.
Updated at 1.26pm GMT
Unions and other progressive groups took out a centerfold ad in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, urging Pennsylvanians to “vote against antisemitism,” Politico reports.
See the ad here. It comes days after an antisemitic gunman murdered 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue.
The ad calls the massacre “the direct result of rhetoric that demonizes Jews and celebrates political violence,” citing a number of comments by Republicans the authors see as evoking antisemitic tropes.
“Antisemitism today is not always as overt as the Tree of Life Congregation shooter’s social media posts, but it is rampant, and it has been embraced by President Donald Trump and others with influential positions in our country,” the ad says.
'Divisive Donald at his worst': Trump attacked over racially inflammatory video
The video, posted on social media on Wednesday, is a marker of the increasingly divisive, racially prejudiced rhetoric emanating from the White House in the run-up to the elections, and has been branded by some as one of the most racially charged national political adverts in decades.
It depicts Luis Bracamontes who in April this year was sentenced to death for the murder of two sheriff’s deputies in Sacramento, California. Bracamontes was in the country illegally at the time of the 2014 murder and had been deported twice in the past.
The video falsely claims: “Illegal immigrant, Luis Bracamontes, killed our people! ... Democrats let him into our country ... Democrats let him stay.”
It has drawn comparisons released in support of George HW Bush’s 1988 election campaign. Horton, an African American, was convicted of murder and then committed a rape during a furlough program in Massachusetts while Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis was governor.
The advert has long been regarded as one of the most divisive in modern presidential history for deliberately stoking fears over race and security.
But the Horton adverts were not directly endorsed by the Bush campaign, unlike the video published by Trump yesterday.
On Wednesday evening Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez told CNN the video was “divisive Donald at his worst”.
What’s the most important issue in midterms races? For many Democrats, it’s healthcare, the Guardian’s Chris McGreal reports from Kansas City, Missouri. Republicans, meanwhile, are stressing illegal immigration:
Where Republicans once thought attacks on Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms were good fodder for their political campaigns, now they find themselves on the defensive over the issue in key seats. Candidates for Congress, state governor and local offices are hurting their GOP opponents with attacks on their voting records in opposing Obamacare, saying they threaten the protection the law offers such as those for people with pre-existing conditions.
Republican attempts to shift the debate to fears about illegal immigration, which polls show is the most common concern among the party’s voters, have been bolstered in the last week of the midterm campaign by Donald Trump’s dispatch of thousands of troops to the Mexican border, ostensibly to protect it from a caravan of migrant Central Americans who are several weeks away, and his threat to unilaterally overturn the right to citizenship for everyone born in the US, a move that is probably unconstitutional.
A Pew Research Center poll this month put illegal immigration as the highest ranked issue among national problems for Republican electors, although that does not mean it is the single most important factor in deciding who to vote for. At the same time, drug addiction was in second place and more than half of Republicans put affordability of healthcare on their list of the country’s biggest problems.
Another poll, by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found immigration was the single most important issue among only 25% of Republicans in shaping how they vote. Among all voters, healthcare came out on top.
Good morning and welcome to the Guardian’s live midterms coverage.
We’re now five days away from election day, when Americans will decide whether Republicans or Democrats control the House of Representatives, the Senate, and governorships around the country. They’ll deal a blow to Donald Trump, or empower him for the next two years.
We’ll be bringing you updates from our reporters on the trail, news from other sources, and the latest polls and forecasts. Stay tuned.