David Brooks: Republican Party Needs To Ignore Trump's "Nativism," Return To Where Bush, McCain and Dole Were On Immigration

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On Friday's edition of PBS NewsHour, The New York Times' conservative columnist, said Republicans should publicly object to GOP candidate for president Donald Trump's "xenophobia" and "nativism."

"What Trump said is the dictionary definition of xenophobia, nativism," Brooks said.

Brooks admonished Trump, responding with an anecdotal observation of the PBS NewsHour parking lot.

"He had a factually inaccurate statement that generalized about a whole group of people, inaccurately, in a slurring manner," Brooks said. "We have got a parking lot right out here at the NewsHour where we brought a bunch of immigrants. And when you pull up, they’re not trying to rape you. They’re not trying to sell drugs. They’re trying to paint your backyard — or back porch."

Brooks said if only Republicans were able to quell the "anti-immigration" "talk radio" part of the party the party and just "rediscover" the immigration policies of former Republican presidential nominees like Bob Dole, John McCain and George W. Bush their problems would solved.

"The party has wandered into an anti-immigration or an anti-immigration reform direction as a result of the rise of the talk radio part of the party," Brooks observed.

"But that part of the party is waning, frankly, and I think it will be very possible for Jeb Bush or Rubio, whoever the nominee is, to be where McCain was and to be where George W. Bush was," Brooks predicted.

"What matters is that whether the Republican Party rediscovers where George W. Bush was on immigration, where John McCain was on immigration, where a lot of — where Bob Dole — where a lot of previous nominees have been," Brooks said.

JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS NEWSHOUR: So, let’s pick up this conversation about immigration. We have just heard this rational — David, this rational discussion about immigration.

But what Donald Trump has been saying and doubling down on has really started a firestorm. What does that do to the national — our nation’s ability to get its hands around this issue?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, it might be — what Trump said is the dictionary definition of xenophobia, nativism.

He had a factually inaccurate statement that generalized about a whole group of people, inaccurately, in a slurring manner. We have got a parking lot right out here at the NewsHour where we brought a bunch of immigrants. And when you pull up, they’re not trying to rape you. They’re not trying to sell drugs. They’re trying to paint your backyard — or back porch.

And that’s statistically what the immigrant population is. They’re here to work. And it’s what most people’s common experience of immigrants, undocumented or not. And so that’s the reality. As Marc said, the useful thing about what’s happened is that we have seen this fissure in the Republican Party, where Jeb Bush came out very strongly against Trump, saying he takes it personally, Rubio again very strongly.

It has brought them out. It has brought their ire out, a little passion in rebutting Trump. Ted Cruz, a little more disgraceful, more or less saying he raises good issues and things like that. So we have begun to see a split. The party now has to confront this. And I think most of the leading candidates have, to my mind, come out on the right side.

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JUDY WOODRUFF: But, David, you don’t think the delay, the fact that it took some of the other candidates some time to come forward with their statement, makes a difference?

DAVID BROOKS: No. It was a matter of days or even hours. They had to formulate things.

What matters is that whether the Republican Party rediscovers where George W. Bush was on immigration, where John McCain was on immigration, where a lot of — where Bob Dole — where a lot of previous nominees have been.

And the party has wandered into an anti-immigration or an anti-immigration reform direction as a result of the rise of the talk radio part of the party. But that part of the party is waning, frankly, and I think it will be very possible for Jeb Bush or Rubio, whoever the nominee is, to be where McCain was and to be where George W. Bush was.

Those are not ancient history of the Republican Party. The party will rediscover that moment.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So you’re saying that maybe he’s doing a favor to some of these other Republicans?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, it’s hard to give him credit for doing a favor, but the people who did the favor were Bush and Rubio and the party members who did the right thing.

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