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Trump Adding Bernie Voters To His Forgotten American Coalition

It was a truly astonishing moment in an election cycle full of surprises when supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders booed the mention of Hillary Clinton’s name during the opening invocation at the Democratic Party’s National Convention. 

Astonishing that the anti-Christian Democrats even bothered with an invocation and, even more astonishing, that Sanders’ supporters took the very first opportunity the mikes and cameras were on to attack Never Hillarytheir Party’s nominee for corrupting the Democratic National Committee to get a boost and push herself over the top as she struggled against Sanders during the primaries. 

The Democrats’ vaunted party discipline, based on the philosophy of “no enemies to the Left,” has been falling apart because at least some of Senator Sanders’ supporters have figured out that Hillary Clinton isn’t the candidate of progressive economic policies. 

Many grassroots limited government constitutional conservatives have long had the sense that the “business community” that is, Big Business as represented by Wall Street and the US Chamber of Commerce, not your Main Street hardware store, doesn’t really care who is elected President as long as it is someone who will play ball with them. 

Now what’s left of the old Reagan Democrats have finally cottoned-on to the fact that Hillary Clinton is the candidate of the Wall Street – Washington – Silicon Valley Axis that has been behind the trade and immigration policies that have, over the past three decades, destroyed the quality of life for millions of American families. 

And they’re mad as hell at the Democratic Party in general and Hillary Clinton in specific. 

What’s more, this rebellion against the Democratic Party is spreading down ballot, for example in Ohio, where two powerful unions, the United Mine Workers and the Ohio Conference of Teamsters have endorsed Republican Senator Rob Portman over Democratic challenger Ted Strickland. 

Donald Trump, for his part, has begun to take aim at Sanders’ voters. 

Trump laid out his pitch to Sanders voters in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last Thursday when he said:

Again, I will tell you the plain facts that have been edited out of your nightly news and your morning newspaper: Nearly Four in 10 African-American children are living in poverty, while 58% of African American youth are not employed. 2 million more Latinos are in poverty today than when the President took his oath of office less than eight years ago. Another 14 million people have left the workforce entirely. 

Household incomes are down more than $4,000 since the year 2000. Our manufacturing trade deficit has reached an all-time high – nearly $800 billion in a single year. The budget is no better. 

President Obama has doubled our national debt to more than $19 trillion, and growing. Yet, what do we have to show for it? Our roads and bridges are falling apart, our airports are in Third World condition, and forty-three million Americans are on food stamps. 

And later in the speech Trump said:

America has lost nearly-one third of its manufacturing jobs since 1997, following the enactment of disastrous trade deals supported by Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Remember, it was Bill Clinton who signed NAFTA, one of the worst economic deals ever made by our country.

Never again.

I am going to bring our jobs back to Ohio and to America – and I am not going to let companies move to other countries, firing their employees along the way, without consequences.

My opponent, on the other hand, has supported virtually every trade agreement that has been destroying our middle class. She supported NAFTA, and she supported China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization – another one of her husband’s colossal mistakes.

She supported the job killing trade deal with South Korea. She has supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP will not only destroy our manufacturing, but it will make America subject to the rulings of foreign governments. I pledge to never sign any trade agreement that hurts our workers, or that diminishes our freedom and independence. Instead, I will make individual deals with individual countries. 

No longer will we enter into these massive deals, with many countries, that are thousands of pages long – and which no one from our country even reads or understands. We are going to enforce all trade violations, including through the use of taxes and tariffs, against any country that cheats. 

This includes stopping China’s outrageous theft of intellectual property, along with their illegal product dumping, and their devastating currency manipulation. Our horrible trade agreements with China and many others, will be totally renegotiated. That includes renegotiating NAFTA to get a much better deal for America – and we’ll walk away if we don’t get the deal that we want. We are going to start building and making things again. 

And, as Time’s Charlotte Alter put it, Donald Trump continued his overtures in a series of tweets over the weekend. 

Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort has also regularly slammed Bill Clinton’s support for NAFTA, which he called “one of the primary contributors to the loss of jobs throughout this campaign.”  

Opposition to free trade is one of the few major policy positions shared by Sanders and Trump supporters notes Alter. Both Trump and Sanders fared better in heavily white states, and the Trump campaign is betting that those demographics will work in their favor. “Sanders voters are demographically our voters,” said one senior Trump aide according to Alter’s reporting. 

Some pro-Bernie demonstrators Charlotte Alter interviewed outside the Democratic National Convention said they were going straight to Trump. “He knows how to create jobs,” said John Smith, a 58-year old air conditioning and refrigeration technician from Philadelphia. “What has she done? Her husband signed that NAFTA agreement.”  

Trump’s overtures to Bernie Sanders supporters may be starting to show results in the polls. Donald Trump came out of his convention ahead of Hillary Clinton, topping her 44 percent to 39 percent in a four-way matchup including Gary Johnson (9 percent) and Jill Stein (3 percent) and by three points in a two-way head-to-head, 48 percent to 45 percent according poll analysis by Jennifer Agiesta, CNN Polling Director.  

That latter finding represents a 6-point convention bounce for Trump, which are traditionally measured in two-way matchups. 

Trump is now ahead of Hillary Clinton because he is absolutely trouncing Clinton among white voters. In the latest CNN/ORC post-GOP Convention poll conducted July 22-24, Clinton only had the support of 34 percent of white voters, compared with 56 percent for Trump; in the 2010 census, 63.7 percent of Americans identified as non-Hispanic white. 

However, it isn’t just economics that may motivate Sanders voters to switch to Trump noted the Washington Free Beacon’s Elizabeth Harrington, who told Fox News’ Lou Dobbs, “…there’s clearly lots of overlap between Bernie supporters and Trump. You have Bernie supporters yelling ‘Lock her up’ today. They’re stealing the GOP slogan during the convention.”

Sander’s supporters chanted, “Lock her up” during a march Sunday night in Philadelphia before the start of the convention, with some of the supporters spotted wearing, “Hillary For Prison” shirts. The exact same chant rallied delegates at the Republican National Convention the week before,” Harrington said. 

Any time you can get your message carried spontaneously into your opponent’s camp it’s a good sign that message is working, now it is up to Donald Trump to close the deal with Bernie Sanders voters, especially the blue collar Baby Boomers who remember pre-NAFTA America and feel robbed of its promise.


George Rasley is editor of ConservativeHQ, a member of American MENSA and a veteran of over 300 political campaigns, including every Republican presidential campaign from 1976 to 2008. He served as lead advance representative for Governor Sarah Palin in 2008 and has served as a staff member, consultant or advance representative for some of America's most recognized conservative Republican political figures, including President Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. He served in policy and communications positions on the House and Senate staff, and during the George H.W. Bush administration he served on the White House staff of Vice President Dan Quayle.


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