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John L. Smith: What Do Latest Tweets From President Trump Mean For Nevada Politics?


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At a ceremony Monday at the White House, President Trump defended his racist tweets against Democratic lawmakers. The language used in that tweet has a long history connected with nativist political movements in the U.S.

Rumors of a large-scale national immigration enforcement operation have so far not come to fruition. 

Nonetheless, President Donald Trump has made his stance on immigration very clear. 

Many have condemned tweets the president sent over the weekend directed at four congresswomen, who are women of color, as racist

“I definitely think it’s a new low for him," longtime Nevada journalist John L. Smith said, "He’s exposing himself as more and more racially obsessed whether that is, some folks would say, that’s because he’s trying to pump the base and keep them agitated maybe that’s the case, maybe it’s just the fact that he’s racially obsessed.”

Smith said some people see the changes in the makeup of Congress - more women and more people of color - as a good thing but others do not. 

“Trump is in that lane at 100 mph,” he said.

Even though there are many people who have criticized the president's words, it is argued that some of what he said will resonant with his base. But Smith said at some point even the most diehard anti-immigrant people will want to see results.

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“I have to think at some point you’re going to be tired of the one-note wonder because even if it’s pounding on the same story, the same note, you would think people would want more than that," he said, "They clearly aren’t getting the results, the folks who love the idea of walls and boxing out immigrants and things like that – kicking them out of the country. They’re not getting the results they want."

Smith pointed out that effort to 'roundup' undocumented immigrants this past weekend did not happen the way the president said it would. 

“It is clearly not what he wanted," he said, "He wants to celebrate anti-immigrant fervor and it’s really fizzling at this point… even those who might agree with him on many of the issues, they really want results. They want answers. They don’t just want another banged drum.”

While the ICE raids didn't go the way the president originally said they would, Smith noted that it was really about making sure people remembered where he stood on immigration.

“If you’re political and your whole point is to remind people where you stand versus the dastardly Democrats, I think that’s what this is all about. It’s for political purposes,” he said.

The president's tweets about the raids were the talk of the weekend talk shows, even though nothing really materialized. But Smith thinks that is really all the president can do about immigration right now.

“Because I think, honestly, that’s what he’s got," he said, "He’s not going to Congress. He’s not going to see anything come through the pipeline to sign, in the mainstream way Congress works that’s not going to happen before the next election. He’s got to have a move and I think this is what it’s been reduced to, unfortunately for the country.”


The question is just how the president's rhetoric is playing out in Nevada, where minority populations are the majority?

“I can’t see that it can help," Smith said, "If you harken back to the last election cycle, you had folks talking about ‘we don’t want Nevada to be more like California.’ Some people might have thought that meant taxes and regulations. Other people might have thought it meant, ‘we don’t want it anymore brown than it is already.’ The fact is Nevada has been made stronger by its immigrant culture and its population.”

Smith said the state's vibrant service worker economy in the south has been helped by the blend of cultures that make it run and many rural communities have been boosted by immigrant families.

"Nevada looks a lot like American and it's not going to change," he said.

As far as the impact on down ticket races in 2020, Smith is not sure any Republicans will break from the president because most have signed on to the Trump branch of the Republican Party.

“They are in it to win it through the Donald Trump megaphone,” he said.


The two recent earthquakes in California that were felt in Nevada have become new ammo against the planned nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, 90 miles north of Las Vegas.

However, Smith is skeptical the quakes will deter the people pushing for the repository.

“The seismic activity has to come from Washington, D.C. unfortunately. I do think it’s an issue. It is certainly one worth studying but it wasn’t studied well early – the seismic activity question,” he said.

Smith doesn't believe the earthquakes will change much but it does give Nevada lawmakers a chance to go over their talking points about the project.

“It gives Nevadans who are opposed to Yucca Mtn., an opportunity to remind people that this was rammed down our throats a long time ago and we’ve been trying our best to make sure it doesn’t come to fruition,” he said.

Smith said the Nevada lawmakers fighting the new efforts to restart the licensing process for the project are in a new stage.

"This is a new era for Nevada’s delegation on the Yucca issue. This is the era that lacks a Harry Reid at the top, basically making sure that the lights are turned out on that project.”


John L Smith, KNPR contributor 

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