Ron Reagan Jr: 15% of GOP Okay ‘Calling Mexican Immigrants Rapists’

During an appearance on Monday’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, former MSNBC host Ron Reagan Jr. argued that the 15% of GOP primary voters that would consider voting for Donald Trump “apparently warms to the idea of calling Mexican immigrants rapists.” 

The former MSNBC host played up the liberal line that Trump was “further damaging the Republican brand because he is a clown act here, and people will see that and yet, he’s attached to the Republican Party.” 

Matthews then asked Reagan Jr. what in the Republican Party Trump is “appealing to?... you just think it`s prejudice against Hispanics, it`s as simple as that. You think that`s it?” 

The former MSNBC host maintained that there is “this nativist element in the Republican Party, as we well know, and it`s a fairly big chunk of the Republican Party now” all of which Trump is speaking to:

I mean, the Republicans are, what, 30 percent of the electorate now, and 15 percent of that 30 percent really apparently warms to the idea of calling Mexican immigrants rapists...But I don`t know that there`s much more than that 15 percent out of that 30 percent that really thinks that that`s the way to discuss the issue of illegal immigration, by calling Mexican immigrants rapists.

For his part, Lanhee Chen, former policy advisor to Mitt Romney, pushed back at the notion that 15 percent of the GOP is comfortable calling “Mexican immigrants rapists”: 

I think the bigger issue, though, is that there is a thirst in the Republican Party, probably in our politics generally now, for somebody who`s not going to have nuance. He`s just going to come out and say, Look, this is what I feel, this is what I believe. I think people look at Barack Obama and they feel like, you know, he`s a guy that`s pretty nuanced. 

I think even people who work for Obama would admit the same. And so in some ways, this is a backlash. It`s a reaction to that. They want someone who`s just going to tell it to them straight. And you know, like it or hate it, Donald Trump does that. I think his comments are offensive and I think they`re awful, but look, he does have a certain style that`s appealing to some people.        

See relevant transcript below. 

MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews 

July 13, 2015

RON REAGAN: There are two things that Trump`s doing. One is he`s further damaging the Republican brand because he is a clown act here, and people will see that and yet, he`s attached to the Republican Party. And the other thing is there are a lot of candidates out there who are desperate for a little media attention, and this guy is sucking all the oxygen out of the room, not being a serious candidate, and that infuriates a lot of them.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Lanhee, your thoughts on that?

LANHEE CHEN: Yes, I mean...

MATTHEWS: Why are they afraid of him?

CHEN: No, I -- I do think part of the problem here is that he is taking energy away from candidates who could be legitimate, who could be making a policy point. You know, you look at folks like Rick Perry or Bobby Jindal and others, they`re going to be hurt, I think, by the fact that this guy`s out there spouting off.

Look, I don`t think he represents mainstream Republican values, but obviously, he does speak to something. And so at this point in the campaign, you just kind of have to grin and bear it. But I don`t think he`s going to be a factor come October, November. I certainly don`t think he`s going to be a factor in New Hampshire or Iowa.
--
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, the numbers we`re looking at, we`ll get to them later in the show, Lanhee, but they do show him doubling his favorability number generally and going up from 20 percent to 56 percent among Tea Party people, but not only Tea Party people. Anyway, Trump`s driving the party mad right now, we can agree. Presidential candidate Lindsey Graham says Trump is a wrecking ball for the Republican Party. 

MATTHEWS: You know, what is it that he`s appealing to? You just think it`s -- Ron, you just think it`s prejudice against Hispanics, it`s as simple as that. You think that`s it.

REAGAN: Well, yes. There`s this nativist element in the Republican Party, as we well know, and it`s a fairly big chunk of the Republican Party now. I mean, the Republicans are, what, 30 percent of the electorate now, and 15 percent of that 30 percent really apparently warms to the idea of calling Mexican immigrants rapists.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REAGAN: But I don`t know that there`s much more than that 15 percent out of that 30 percent that really thinks that that`s the way to discuss the issue of illegal immigration, by calling Mexican immigrants rapists. 

       

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