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CNN debunks Trump's racially charged ad

CNN's Tom Foreman debunks a campaign video tweeted by President Trump that depicts the caravan of migrants heading toward the US from Central America as criminals.

Posted: Nov 6, 2018 7:38 PM
Updated: Nov 6, 2018 7:55 PM

Fifty-two years ago, President Lyndon Johnson warned the nation not to be seduced by proponents of a white backlash. Less than 48 hours before the 1966 midterms, just like today, LBJ saw in the electorate a noxious mix of white anger, hatred and resentment.

Back then, the white backlash had taken form in response to the riots in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles one year earlier as well as to an open housing bill that his administration was trying to push through Congress aimed at eliminating racism in the sale or rental of property.

Speaking to reporters at a televised news conference in Fredericksburg, Texas, on November 6, Johnson read from a prepared statement in which he explained, "I can think of nothing more dangerous, more divisive, or more self-destructive than the effort to prey on what is called 'white backlash.' I thought it was a mistake to pump this issue up in the 1964 campaign, and I do not think it served the purpose of those who did. I think it is dangerous because it threatens to vest power in the hands of second-rate men whose only qualification is their ability to pander to other men's fears. I think it divides this nation at a very critical time -- and therefore it weakens us as a united country."

Though LBJ had been a product of the South and had opposed civil rights legislation earlier in his career, he had come to fully embrace the cause of civil rights with a religious zeal, pushing the Civil Rights Act of 1957 while serving as Senate majority leader and then as President moving the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 through the Congress.

The President, who was frustrated that the accomplishments from his Great Society were at risk in 1966, didn't hold back when speaking to the reporters. "I think that the so-called 'white backlash' is destructive, not only of the interests of Negro Americans, but of all those who stand to gain from humane and farsighted government. And those that stand to gain from humane and farsighted government is everybody. Nevertheless, there are those who try to stimulate suspicion into hatred, and to make fear and frustration their springboard into public office. Many of them do it openly. Some let their henchmen do it for them. Their responsibility is the same."

Johnson warned that, "Racism -- whether it comes packaged in the Nazi's brown shirt or a three-button suit -- destroys the moral fiber of a nation. It poisons public life. So I would urge every American to ask himself before he goes to the polls on Tuesday: Do I want to cast my vote on the basis of fear? Do I want to follow the merchants of bigotry?"

LBJ had his eye on the backlash that was taking place in many parts of the country, with special concern for Georgia, where Democrat Lester Maddox was running against Republican Bo Callaway for governor with naked appeals to angry whites. Maddox, who had received the support of the KKK, was famous for having waved a pistol at three African-American Georgia Tech students who he chased away from his whites-only restaurant, the Pickrick Restaurant, after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Unfortunately, too many parts of the nation didn't listen to LBJ's warning, and we are still paying the price. The midterms -- which drew a record-high midterm turnout of 49% -- didn't go well for the administration. Although Democrats still controlled the House and Senate, Republicans had gained 47 seats in the House and three seats in the Senate. The GOP did well in Democratic bastions like Chicago, where some white, ethnic, working-class voters responded to the demagogues who warned that their property was at risk.

The conservative coalition of Southern Democrats and Republicans who had blocked progress on liberal legislation since 1938, who suffered a major setback in LBJ's landslide victory in 1964, were back in full force. Conservatives also did well in state races, including Maddox who won in Georgia -- the state that today is once again ground zero for efforts to roll back the gains of civil rights through voting restrictions.

Even worse, the politics of white backlash did not disappear from the conservative landscape. The partisan appeals continued to white, protestant men, whose fear that the country was changing around them never went away. President Richard Nixon, who returned to the national landscape by campaigning on law and order for Republicans in the 1966 midterms, exploited these fears with his promises for "law and order" and a Southern Strategy that aimed to pick up formerly Democratic votes in Dixie by resisting civil rights.

During the 1980s, Republican campaign consultant Lee Atwater was a master at using this ploy, most famously with an ad in 1988 about a parole program in Massachusetts -- the home state of Democratic governor Michael Dukakis -- that allowed an African-American prisoner Willie Horton to go free for a weekend during which he escaped and later raped a woman and stabbed her husband. White backlash has continued to flare, such as with the birther campaign in 2011, where Republicans like Donald Trump questioned the legitimacy of the first African American president.

While the politics of white backlash have been a part of conservative politics since the 1960s, most mainstream political leaders refused to make this the centerpiece of the campaign and they pushed back against these elements of the electorate once the most heated parts of the campaign were done. They tried to build broad coalitions that revolved around issues like anti-communism and tax reductions rather than pure, undiluted hate.

Not this time. President Trump has made white backlash a defining character of his presidency.

This weekend, former President Barack Obama offered a similar warning as LBJ, arguing that the midterms were a test of the character of the nation. On Tuesday, Americans have a chance to send a strong statement, through hundreds of congressional races, that the toxic brand of backlash politics President Trump and many Republicans have peddled in the last month is not acceptable in 2018.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1118335

Reported Deaths: 17712
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1455892240
Lake724831254
Allen67063882
Hamilton51060487
St. Joseph49820649
Elkhart40268546
Vanderburgh34714497
Tippecanoe30808276
Johnson27696467
Hendricks26313385
Porter25657386
Madison21131455
Clark20238279
Vigo19059309
LaPorte17192261
Howard16770314
Delaware16761303
Monroe16628220
Kosciusko14293167
Hancock13113186
Bartholomew12983190
Warrick12210190
Wayne12090269
Floyd12011226
Grant11998245
Morgan10409192
Boone9869124
Noble9316122
Henry9177169
Marshall9152147
Dearborn8970100
Dubois8835140
Shelby8281130
Cass8167128
Lawrence8057185
DeKalb7817109
Jackson770793
Huntington7661115
Gibson7102118
Montgomery7101123
Harrison6954100
Knox6915116
Steuben669089
Whitley659660
Miami6595113
Putnam645085
Clinton627179
Wabash6221111
Jasper613192
Jefferson5856105
Ripley557294
Adams542281
Daviess5076117
Scott491580
Wells4836105
White478469
Greene4701101
Clay464662
Decatur4611110
Fayette452496
Jennings452067
LaGrange427491
Posey410044
Randolph3944107
Washington390956
Fountain375964
Fulton364874
Spencer362247
Starke355574
Owen353577
Sullivan348555
Orange331372
Jay331050
Rush309533
Carroll296239
Franklin292744
Perry290553
Vermillion283658
Tipton251167
Parke250130
Pike248644
Blackford222144
Pulaski210359
Newton182452
Brown177550
Crawford169129
Benton168417
Martin152120
Switzerland147612
Warren135816
Union122616
Ohio92413
Unassigned0595

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1717876

Reported Deaths: 26851
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1793291843
Cuyahoga1681592655
Hamilton1137721544
Montgomery805721405
Summit719531210
Lucas630291027
Butler56852814
Stark538501183
Lorain42330645
Warren35959417
Mahoning35798788
Lake32314501
Clermont31289369
Trumbull27344620
Delaware27206185
Licking26658344
Medina26042353
Fairfield24638287
Greene24378373
Clark22122390
Portage21257283
Richland21102342
Wood20128248
Allen18969326
Miami17338352
Columbiana16905335
Muskingum16726207
Wayne15740307
Tuscarawas14454362
Marion13332196
Ashtabula12732237
Erie12685199
Scioto12475188
Pickaway12260155
Ross11719226
Hancock11529175
Geauga10934179
Lawrence10653172
Belmont10459234
Huron9805159
Jefferson9632228
Union957375
Sandusky9348166
Seneca8917161
Knox8792176
Washington8688159
Darke8399181
Athens838197
Ashland8029152
Auglaize7943120
Shelby7511135
Defiance7358117
Crawford7281150
Fulton7215113
Brown7173116
Logan7003111
Guernsey696186
Mercer6933100
Highland6745120
Clinton6526106
Williams650099
Madison649790
Preble6274140
Putnam6244122
Jackson581597
Champaign580887
Perry566779
Coshocton5645108
Ottawa5641102
Morrow517765
Fayette494072
Hardin4895100
Gallia471478
Van Wert467895
Pike465578
Adams4592110
Henry434280
Hocking410193
Holmes3999141
Wyandot377675
Carroll366178
Paulding325451
Meigs305961
Monroe235961
Noble220349
Morgan216939
Harrison213153
Vinton187638
Unassigned06
Fort Wayne
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Huntington
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Decatur
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Van Wert
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Saturday is looking great, with warmer temperatures, wet and windy conditions returning Sunday.
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