Trump's betting on blatant racism to save his flailing campaign

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He's desperate to avoid a showdown with Joe Biden.

As he continues to trail former Vice President Joe Biden in the polls, Donald Trump is resorting to taking cheap shots against his opponent's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), calling her a "monster" and a "super liberal wack job" who is "not as smart" as her Senate colleagues.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the Trump campaign's newest strategy is to target Harris — and specifically, her identity as a Black woman — in the final three weeks before the election.

After last week's vice presidential debate, Trump called Harris a "monster," and said Biden "won't be president for two months" before Harris steps in and assumes the role of president.

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"The radical left controls Biden. Biden won't be president for two months, OK? He won't be president for two months," Trump told Fox Business's Maria Bartiromo last week.

"So what do you mean? You mean that he'll have to step down? Are you saying you think he'll have to step down after two months?" Bartiromo asked.

"He's not mentally capable of being president. You know that. Everybody knows that. Everybody that knows him — he can't be president," Trump said.

He continued: "And this monster that was onstage with Mike Pence — who destroyed her last night, by the way. But this monster, she says, 'No, no, there won't be fracking, there won't be this, there won't.' Everything she said is a lie!"

Trump darkly warned that Biden has "a lot of bad days coming" at a rally in Florida on Monday.

"His handlers and the Fake News Media are doing everything possible to get him through the Election," Trump tweeted last month. "Then he will resign, or whatever, and we are stuck with a super liberal wack job that NOBODY wanted!"

In September, Trump told supporters in Wisconsin that Harris is "further left than" Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and "not as smart" as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). And after Biden accidentally referred to a possible "Harris-Biden administration," the Trump campaign sent out a fundraising text message that read, "THE KAMALA HARRIS ADMINISTRATION! The secret is out."

Harris has dismissed Trump's comments about her as "childish," while Biden called them "despicable" and "so beneath the office of the presidency."

"It's obvious he has great difficulty dealing with strong women, great difficulty," Biden told reporters after the debate.

Trump's attacks are brazen dog whistles against Harris, who could become the first woman of color to serve as vice president.

"It is really an effort to say to their base, 'Look, we don’t want a Black woman to be president,'" Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) told the Associated Press. "'We don’t want this Black person to take over in case something happens to Joe Biden.'"

In August, Trump gave credence to a racist conspiracy theory claiming that Harris may not meet citizenship requirements to run for office. Harris, whose parents came to the United States from India and Jamaica, was born in California.

"I heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements," Trump told reporters in August. "I would have thought, I would have assumed, that the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice president."

The move that harkened back to the racist "birther" conspiracy theory championed by Trump and other conservatives which falsely claimed that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and therefore was not eligible to run for president.

Biden has led Donald Trump in the polls since this summer, and has made inroads with voters in swing states as well as older voters, who make up a core of Trump's base. Still, there are signs that the Trump campaign's desperate strategy may be resonating with some voters, according to the Swing Voter Project, which tracks the opinions of voters who flipped from supporting Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016.

After the vice presidential debate, the organization hosted a focus group with 13 swing voters in Michigan. Of the 13 swing voters interviewed, 11 planned to vote for Trump a second time, while two planned to vote for Biden. Several of the focus group participants parroted Trump's claim that Harris would take over the presidency from Biden.

Asked when such a power play might occur, one man guessed, "First six months."

"I'd say probably within a year," one woman added.

Resorting to racist stereotypes for personal gain is not exactly a new strategy for Trump. As a businessman, he was known to casually repeat racist tropes, and allegedly once called a Black accountant lazy.

"Black guys counting my money! I hate it," Trump supposedly said at the time. "I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks."

In 1989, Trump famously bought full-page advertisements in four New York newspapers demanding that the Central Park Five — the five Black teenagers who were falsely accused of raping a white woman — be executed.

As a celebrity and reality television host, Trump promoted the racist conspiracy theory that Obama was born in Kenya, and therefore ineligible to serve as president.

As president, Trump has referred to Haiti and African nations as "shithole countries," and has routinely called Black Lives Matter activists "thugs."

Trump's attacks against Harris could be a sign that his campaign is struggling to land a clean punch on Biden.

"This is a desire not to run against Joe Biden, to run against anybody but Joe Biden," Joshua Dyck, an associate professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, told the Associated Press.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.