Earlier we asked the question what Louisiana’s Democrat governor John Bel Edwards was going to say when he was inevitably asked about the controversy surrounding President Trump’s offensive against the four Hard Left Democrat congresswomen who have gone around describing themselves as The Squad and making continuously problematic statements about America.
Our thesis was there was no way for Edwards to win on the issue. But there was a way he could absolutely lose on it, which was to throw in behind Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
It turns out that’s exactly what he did. Here’s the audio of Edwards being asked about Trump’s tweets on his call-in radio show this afternoon…
Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday said Donald Trump was “out of bounds” for comments directed at four congresswomen of color that were condemned as racist by the U.S. House, and called his gubernatorial opponent’s endorsement of the remarks “beyond the pale.”
The governor chastised the president’s twitter messages a day after the U.S. House took an extraordinary vote to rebuke the comments as racist, and after political figures from across the country weighed in.
While he didn’t call the president’s comments racist, Edwards likened them to the barbs hurled at African Americans at lunch counters and on buses during the civil rights era.
“Obviously I believe the president’s remarks by tweet were out of bounds,” Edwards said on his monthly radio show Ask the Governor. “We all aspire to do better than that quite frankly. I think it’s incumbent on all of us…That we need to have the most civil political discourse we can.”
Edwards said Trump’s remarks were the latest example of “toxic” political discourse that has worsened in recent years. He said “both sides” have contributed to that.
And then he attacked Ralph Abraham for jumping in hard behind Trump…
“That’s very, very unfortunate,” Edwards said of Abraham’s comments. “Louisianans are better than that and hopefully they will demand better than that from their governor.”
This isn’t going to go over well.
Let’s remember that Trump won Louisiana by a bit larger margin (58-38 over Hillary Clinton, compared to Edwards’ 56-44 margin over David Vitter) than John Bel Edwards did. Virtually every reputable poll done in Louisiana has placed Trump’s approval and popularity in the state ahead of Edwards’.
And there is zero evidence Trump has lost support in Louisiana by calling out Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as anti-American. The guess here is that Louisianans, including a good number of black and Hispanic Louisianans, probably don’t accept the prospect that it’s automatically racist to call out Omar and AOC for their poisonous rhetoric. To take such a position, after all, is essentially to say that those two and others in their camp, as “women of color,” are immune from any criticism by white men for any reason.
Most people in Louisiana and elsewhere, regardless of race, would reject that contention as absurd and racist in itself.
There is a Reuters/Ipsos poll out which shows that Trump has gained popularity among Republican voters this week nationally. As more of the state’s voters identify as Republicans than Democrats (something which is not borne out by voter registration, but that’s an entirely separate post for another time which involves the state’s jungle primary system), it’s quite reasonable to assume Trump’s popularity in Louisiana has ticked up this week for his having rounded on Omar and AOC.
In Edwards’ case, he’s clearly being pushed into taking a left-wing position on Trump’s tweets, and in doing so forfeiting his hoped-for status as a “Trump-friendly” Democrat, by Louisiana Democrat Party chair Karen Carter Peterson, who has been on a warpath since Sunday. Peterson has tweeted multiple times that “silence” is not acceptable where this issue is concerned.
Edwards was already in hot water with Peterson over his signing the fetal heartbeat bill earlier this year. A second bite at the “conservative” apple risked open warfare with the chair of the party. And he either doesn’t think he’s strong enough to survive that (in which case he’d be right), or he’s afraid of getting a Democrat challenger for re-election. So today came the left turn.
We’ve talked to folks from the Louisiana GOP and both Republican gubernatorial camps today, and they’re absolutely ecstatic. They have good reason to be.
We’ve analogized this race to the 2014 Senate race before. That was the one in which Bill Cassidy scorched Mary Landrieu, who was a less-than-popular Democrat incumbent. This race now looks a whole lot more like 2014. One of the reasons Landrieu performed so badly was that she made an atrocious gaffe accusing the state’s white voters of racism, and turned off a lot of moderate voters in doing so. Today’s mistake by Edwards could well produce a strongly similar effect.
It’s also a matter of time before Trump, hearing of Edwards’ attack on him, turns his guns on Louisiana’s governor – something which was always going to happen, specifically once the runoff began, but could well be on an accelerated timetable now that Edwards has poked Trump. When the president does let loose on Edwards, there will be nothing left of his re-election chances.