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Politics In The News: Trump Campaign Comments

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And for some analysis on the presidential race, we're joined now by Cokie Roberts.

Good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Hi, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Now, Cokie, we got away from Donald Trump there for a couple of seconds. But can we get back to him to start with? How bad is it for the party?

ROBERTS: It's bad. Look, to the degree that he's identified with the Republican brand, it's bad for the Republican brand. It's offensive to women is just the latest thing. Remember what he said about Hispanics that was so over-the-top, calling families coming over the border criminals and rapists? Then it becomes really tough for the party to fix it. And the party regulars kept believing he would flame out sooner than he has. But so far, it hasn't happened. All of his offensive statements - John McCain, all of that - haven't done it. Maybe Megyn Kelly has but you have to wait and see if that's true. And he's still taking up all the oxygen. Look, yesterday morning, for about the fifth week in a row, he went on the Sunday shows, except Fox, on the telephone. Now, I used to host a Sunday show. I can tell you that was just totally unacceptable. But everybody allows it now because he's Donald Trump, and he brings in the viewers. And so that becomes a big problem and remains a problem for the Republicans.

MONTAGNE: Oh, yes, that was interesting. David and I just noticed the telephone quality and were commenting on that. But, of course, he does say that he hires Hispanics and admires women and pays them a lot. I mean, does that work for, say, women and Hispanic voters?

ROBERTS: No. It would be hard to believe that that works. And people know when they're being insulted. And you have to understand there's certain issues that are basically threshold issues, that you can't - you can say anything you want about economics or war and peace or social issues like gay marriage, but you can't get over the threshold with Hispanic voters if you are anti-immigration. And even if they agree on things like family values, if you're made to feel unwelcome, you won't be with the party that makes you feel that way. And the same thing's true, by the way, about African-Americans and voting rights.

MONTAGNE: Well, on the question of voting rights, President Obama used his Saturday radio talk to address the issue. And there was a significantly ruling out of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on the Texas law. How significant is that?

ROBERTS: I think it's legally very important because the 5th Circuit is now a conservative court, unlike in the early civil rights days when one of its most distinguished judges opined that the 5th Circuit kept the country from a second Civil War. So them sending the Texas law back to Texas is significant. But, look, this is absolutely key to African-American voters. Civil rights is a threshold issue. And, you know, in the past, when I was growing up, African-Americans were primarily Republican because it was the party of Lincoln. But then when the whole civil rights era came, the Democratic Party claimed them and has kept them. And just as a new generation of young African-Americans was growing up and this issue wasn't as key for them, all of these voting bills started getting introduced into state legislatures, making it harder for minorities to vote. And so another generation has been driven away from the Republican Party.

MONTAGNE: But, in fact, Cokie, it's not the Republicans who have seen their campaign events disrupted by African-American activists. It's the Democrats. It happened again to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders this weekend.

ROBERTS: Well, but - that's because the activists are not showing up at Republican events 'cause they've written them off. But, yes, Bernie Sanders was in Seattle, and a group from Black Lives Matter drowned him out. But then he went on to two enormous rallies in Seattle of 15,000 people, another in Portland of what his campaign says was 28,000 people. But, yes, the Democrats are having some trouble dealing with this issue of how to handle the Black Lives Matter activists. But they're trying to find their voice on it. Sanders has hired an African-American woman as a press secretary. And so I think they're getting there.

MONTAGNE: OK. Cokie Roberts, thanks very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.