Mail bombs versus migrant caravan: Donald Trump goes all in on 2 powerful optics dominating US politics before 6 November midterm elections

New York: 
Out with the bombs and back to the migrant caravan. Donald Trump is mighty relived that Page One headlines will be cleared of the mail bomb story for the next 10 days before midterm elections 2018 which will decide political control over US Congress. Trump called the "bomb stuff" distracting and suggested it took attention away from the thousands of migrants walking in a hope to "crash" the US border. Trump's ratings have been enjoying a late surge the last couple of weeks since he brought immigration back to the election stumping spotlight.

File image of Donald Trump. AP

File image of Donald Trump. AP

Florida man Cesar Sayoc, charged with sending more than a dozen package bombs to Democratic political figures, has been arrested Friday. He is described as a Republican, troubled loner and male stripper who showed little interest in politics before the rise of Trump. Sayoc's social media accounts are peppered with memes supporting Trump, denigrating Democrats, and promoting conspiracy theories about George Soros, the billionaire political donor who was the first targeted this week by a package bomb.

When this mail bomb story broke early this week, it pushed another to the sidelines - a caravan of migrants heading north through Mexico by foot is about 1,000 miles away and dwindling in numbers as the Trump administration considers new measures to stifle immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border. With the arrest today of Sayoc, Trump has brought the migrant caravan back where he wants it - a metaphor for what he called America's "broken immigration system".

Representative of the angry political divisions in the US, two theories have dominated news coverage since the mail bomb story broke even as Trump hammered away at the migrant caravan story: Trump critics are laying the blame for stoking violence squarely at the US president’s doorstep; his foot soldiers are brushing it aside as a Democrat led tactic. “Oh, they sent the bombs to themselves!”, Ken, a Republican voter who works as a crossing guard in New York, told Firstpost.

Right winger and radio host Rush Limbaugh says news outlets like CNN seem to care more about tying Trump to a mail bomber than in the pursuit of the perpetrator. “They are trying to pass responsibility of this off to Donald Trump and then trying to get us to shut up in response and in opposition to it,” Mr. Limbaugh said. We’re supposed to have sit here and say, ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, had no.’ Until we know the facts, we can’t comment while they comment left and right and start ragging on Trump or his supporters or what have you, while we’re supposed to shirt and be polite and have good manners and not say anything about it.”

For his part, Trump heaped praise on law enforcement officials for their speed and competence in nabbing the mail bomb suspect, calling them the world’s best . “I want to applaud the FBI, Secret Service, Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorneys’ Office for the Southern District of New York, the NYPD, and all Law Enforcement partners across the Country for their incredible work, skill and determination!” he tweeted.

All this came some hours after his Twitter rant at 3 am in which he complained that CNN and others were blaming him for the scare, saying they were "ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, 'it's just not Presidential!'" One of the packages was sent to CNN, forcing an evacuation of their Manhattan studios.

Although Trump has said twice in the last two days that there's "no place for violence in politics", critics aren’t convinced. They’re saying the ‘teleprompter Trump’ and ‘Twitter Trump’ are playing the voters with a shape shifting version of where the US president really stands on issues.

“Come to think of it, who gets attacked more than me?” Trump asked a crowd of mostly young, African-Americans at the 2018 Young Black Leadership Summit on the same afternoon Cesae Sayoc was arrested.

“I get attacked maybe more than anybody. I can do the greatest thing for our country and on the networks, it will show bad.” At the same huddle, he asked why his “America First” rallying cry is being called “racist.”

While the Democrats are mostly limiting themselves to grumbling in a non-organised way, Trump is pouncing on this late surge of political opportunity barely 10 days from the midterms with all guns blazing. Early this week, he got branded as the one stoking political divisions and he calls for political unity and asks that people don’t equate any politician with “evil historical figures”. There’s a story doing the rounds that Trump may be considering closing off the border to illegal migrants via executive order. Whether he does it or not is less relevant but he now owns the role of border protection chief. “If we don’t do something about it, these folks will be on your front porch”, he says.

Trump, the master persuader, is at it again and seems to be enjoying the ride. Those who can counterpunch are more concerned with their own 2020 run and stepping very carefully. They jab occasionally but are mostly quiet despite having the same communication tools at their disposal as Trump does.

In the void, Trump has taken on the mantle of the law and order president, the America First brand ambassador.

Even star players in Trump’s own bureaucracy are doing more talking than the Democrats. Sample what Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Friday on the migrant caravan making its way to the US border: "Everything is on the table. We are looking at every possible way within the legal construct that we have to make sure that those who don't have legal right to come to this country do not come in” Nielsen said.

Back on the campaign trail tonight in Charlotte, Trump is back to his old attack lines of "Crooked Hillary Clinton," prompting a round of "Lock her up!" chants.
Trump also railed against what he calls media efforts "to use the sinister actions" of one person to score "political points" against him.

Before he left the White House for the Carolinas, he was asked if he planned to cool it down on the rhetoric. "I could really tone it up", he shot back before Air Force One lifted off into the cold night air.


Updated Date: Oct 27, 2018 06:31 AM

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