During last week’s rally in Tulsa, Okla., Trump and Pence came down firmly on the side of keeping Confederate statues up as a way to “remember our history,” a stance that could alienate moderate voters ahead of the 2020 election. But Trump and his allies have now shifted focus to the vandalism targeting non-Confederate monuments, potentially seeking to pander to a broader audience while trying to paint progressive protesters — and the Democrats supporting them — as detached from mainstream American norms.
“They hate our history, they hate our values, and they hate everything we prize as Americans,” Trump said Tuesday night. “The left is not trying to promote justice or equality or lift up the downtrodden.”
Trump and his backers have spent weeks trying to find a way to discredit the protesters — claiming without evidence that violent antifa provocateurs were embedded in Black Lives Matter protests, attacking the largely peaceful activists in Seattle’s autonomous zone as “domestic terrorists.” But those appeals largely played to Trump’s base. Conservatives are hoping that Americans more broadly will be concerned with protesters going after non-Confederate statues.