Trump warns Republican candidates it’s time to ‘get smart and toughen up … we are in a culture war’

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President Donald Trump warned Republicans they will have a “very tough” election ahead if they don’t “toughen up” on protecting America’s heritage.

The president made his sobering assessment of a “culture war” facing the nation in an interview this week which echoed some of the remarks he made during his Independence Day celebration at Mount Rushmore.

(Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

“If the Republicans don’t toughen up and get smart and get strong and protect our heritage and protect our country,” he told Real Clear Politics, “I think they’re going to have a very tough election.”

Trump told the outlet in an Oval Office interview on Tuesday that “we are in a culture war,” warning it could cost his party the election if they don’t act in the face of the current battle over monuments, military bases and other representations of America’s past history.

The president had spoken of “a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children” during his Mt. Rushmore speech. He railed against “an angry mob” striving to “tear down statues of our Founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.”

At a White House press briefing on Monday, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that “this vision is not a culture war, as the media seeks to falsely proclaim.”

“It’s an embrace of our American family, our values, our freedom and our future,” she said.

Though many of the president’s supporters praised his speech for its rallying message, his detractors criticized it as divisive. But it is apparently a message he intends to pursue heading into November and amid concerning poll numbers showing he is trailing behind presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in key states.

“He is not unaware of the spate of polling that shows Biden expanding his lead, numbers he takes seriously. But Trump spoke longingly on Tuesday of a kind of campaign that is no longer possible amid a pandemic,” Real Clear Politics’ Phillip Wegmann reported.

“This was going to be a blowout, and then China hit us with the ‘China virus,’ and all of a sudden, it discombobulated this country and the entire world. Now, it’s a much closer situation,” Trump said.

“We were sailing to an easy victory. Now, I have to fight for the victory, but I’ve been fighting all my life. That’s what I do. I fight for victory,” the president added.

Trump warned that a Biden presidency would mean “a massive and very deep depression in this country because he intends to raise taxes massively on everybody to pay for programs that don’t work.”

Losing his reelection bid, Trump warned, will lead to “a system that nobody’s going to want to be a part of, a system that will lead to another Venezuela.”

He told the outlet that in his second term he would maintain his policy goals in the areas of the economy, military and immigration but will also focus on policing issues, pointing to the weekend’s crime numbers from Chicago as “a travesty.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently addressed the skyrocketing crimes in her city, where more than a dozen people died over the July Fourth weekend, and told CNN that COVID-19 has been a contributing factor to the increase.

Trump vowed to focus on “law enforcement in the cities” during his Real Clear Politics interview, noting how mayors and governors had turned down his offer of federal support. He also indicated

The president addressed other criticism he faced this week after he asked if Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only black driver, if he planned to apologize after an FBI investigation found that a noose-shaped rope hanging in his Talladega garage stall last month was not actually a hate crime but a simple door pull.

“That tweet said nothing other than [that] NASCAR made a decision, and not everybody agrees with that decision,” the president told RCP. “I didn’t say that I did or didn’t agree with that decision—I didn’t say. As far as I’m concerned, it’s freedom of speech.”

“But a lot of people were hurt by that decision. They were hurt. They didn’t have bad intentions, they were hurt. And all I do is call it like I see it,” he added.

That strategy has served Trump well even while it has sent his critics over the edge. He apparently will continue to shoot straight in the remaining months before the election.

“My instincts have been right. I follow my instinct,” the president told the outlet on his continuing campaign. “I follow the brain; the brain has gotten me far.”

The report noted that Trump “rejected rumors and recent reports that he is privately uninterested in a second term and intends to self-sabotage his campaign.”

“I want it with all my breath,” he said, “with every ounce of what I represent.”


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