By Joe Lapointe
After trying to boost John James in the days before Tuesday’s election, it seems that President Donald Trump will avoid the rookie politician trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
Is Trump shunning a rally here for James because Trump’s popularity has dropped so low in the Great Lakes State that he fears being heckled and booed by protesters who might oppose Trump’s usual cheering, chanting mob?
Or does Trump fear that backing an African-American candidate near the city of Detroit will hurt his street cred with the white nationalists among his right-wing supporters?
On Fox News Channel on Wednesday, James showed he knows this president's media habits.
“Mr. President, if you’re watching, please come to Michigan,” James told Trump cheerleader Sean Hannity. “We need you to help us.”
In an odd segue, James then dissed Detroit.
“Detroit has become Jim Crow North,” James said. “Detroit is the No. 1 most segregated city in the entire country.”
This seemed a strange thing to say about a city that has apparently turned the corner on “white flight” to the suburbs and has seen more white people moving into Detroit than leaving in recent years.
Perhaps James could explain this comment and answer other questions if he returned multiple requests for an interview.
The day before Hannity, also on Fox, Trump blew kisses in the direction of James when interviewed by Church Lady Laura Ingraham.
Here’s Trump’s actual quote.
“He’s doing so well,” Trump said of James. “But I’m trying to get to Michigan. That’s how well John James is doing. John James is a star. African-American. Great guy. And you know how John James? [sic] He was one of four or five people running. And I’m watching television. And I see John James. And I said `Who’s that guy?’ `He’s running in Michigan.’ `Let me see it again.’ And I said `That guy’s great. He’s a star.’”
Trump Won Michigan, Didn’t He?
So filled with unmatched wisdom and insight is Trump that he has the power to make such snap judgments about a new “star” just by glimpsing him for mere moments on a TV screen! So why won’t Trump come to Michigan to stump for James?
In some ways, visiting here would make sense.
Trump’s many campaign appearances tend to be for Republicans in close races for U.S. Senate seats in states Trump won in the presidential election of 2016. James and Michigan Republicans claim Stabenow’s lead over James has shrunk from 20-plus percentage points to the high single digits.
And Trump indeed took Michigan two years ago – by fewer than 11,000 votes out of more than 4.5 million. And Trump has often bragged about winning the Wolverine State and others in the Great Lakes region as the key to his upset victory over Hillary Clinton.
Nevertheless -- despite his active campaign schedule, with 11 events in the final six days -- Trump plans to skip Michigan and James although he will stop nearby in Ohio and Indiana.
And although Trump bashes unfavorable polls as “Fake News,” he may have seen a Detroit News-WDIV survey last Monday that showed the president with an unfavorable rating of 57 per cent and a favorable rating of only 38 per cent in Michigan.
Or he may have read a prediction from FiveThirtyEight that showed Stabenow’s chance of victory at 97.7 per cent. Perhaps Trump – being a rough, tough, strong, “winner” – doesn’t want to back a “loser.”
Trump’s mouthpieces also haven't done James any favors in the last few days.
On Twitter, Rudy Giuliani called him “Don” James. And Kellyanne Conway, the White House aide, canceled a Thursday appearance with James in Sterling Heights due to aircraft mechanical problems, she said.
Questions for John James
Do the recent polls show that Michiganders are getting wise to Trump? Do voters here sense that his big tax cut was a gift to the rich with only spare change trickling down to the working class?
In a state with many blacks, Mexican-Americans and Muslims, especially in Metro Detroit, do voters here fear Trump’s attacks against migrants, religious minorities and people of color also might threaten them?
Or are they just sick and tired of Republican rule in Michigan that has given them terrible road deterioration, poison water in Flint and “right-to-work” laws in what was once a strong union culture?
Might they be uneasy about Trump’s vicious words, his constant lies about his “enemies,” his loose morals and so many of his cronies pleading guilty to felonies?
Should John James be sent to the Senate, will he unquestioningly support Trump’s reckless foreign policies and cruel domestic deeds?
Will he applaud decisions like the one to grab children at the border from their parents and lock them up in cages? Will he agree that the news media is the “enemy of the people?”
“I’ll work with the president when it benefits Michigan and against him when it goes against Michigan,” James said of Trump in a recent debate with Stabenow. “I’ve told the president to his face that I can agree with him without worshipping him and disagree with him without attacking him.”