Larry Elder once called Donald Trump “almost sent by God”. Now he’s “indifferent” to a Trump endorsement


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Within 24 hours of Donald Trump descending the golden escalator into the heart of American political consciousness, Larry Elder once recalled pinning the reality TV star as the next president. He urged his radio audience: “We should stand behind him.”

Two years after Trump’s presidency, Elder sounded rave about the choice he and other Americans had made. “The election of Donald Trump in 2016 was, in my opinion, a divine intervention,” he said in 2019 in front of an audience of conservatives who had gathered at a resort in Rancho Palos Verdes. “It was a miracle. He is almost sent from God. “

Elder sounds decidedly more cautious about Trump these days as the longtime Los Angeles radio host leads 45 other challengers in the race to replace Gavin Newsom should the Californians vote to remove the governor on September 14.

Elder went out of his way to talk about all of the other Republican presidential candidates he supported before Trump. When the Times asked to speak to him about Trump, his campaign spokeswoman recommended focusing on Elders “prominent Democratic or independent supporters.” And Elder recently told CNN that he was “indifferent” to the prospect of gaining support from Trump, who is immensely popular with Republicans nationally.

Elder has embarked on what one conservative commentator called a “tightrope” – balancing the imperatives of many of the most ardent call-back advocates who love Trump while trying to break more centrist soil in a state dominated by Democrats and non-partisan voters.

Internet commentator Allah Pundit theorized that the Republican front runner is “getting a crash course on the nagging dilemma that every Republican has faced since 2016, when a crucial part of the party base became a cult for Trump”.

Elder “wants to present himself as a generic Republican and would-be statesman, not the kind of fire-breathing Trumpists that Californians would shy away from,” the blogger wrote.

Newsom defenders want Elder to be as closely tied as possible to Trump, a figure deeply unpopular to the majority of Californians. The former president lost California by nearly 30 percentage points to Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

An anti-recall campaign mailer contained no fewer than five pictures of Trump. A TV commercial shows a picture of a smiling elder and Trump side by side and urges voters to “stop the Republican recall.”

With just over a week to go before the election, there has been no sign that the former president will take a position to get rid of Newsom or support any of the potential successors. And Elder’s campaign said the recall is “not about Trump,” who the candidate has not spoken to since the campaign began, while “focusing on California, not national politics.”

In his days leading up to the recall, Elder gave one of his most elaborate descriptions of becoming a Trump fan on a 2019 retreat for the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

Elder told the congregation how he initially underestimated Trump that June day in 2015 when he took an escalator in Trump Tower to his president’s announcement.

“I saw it. I was alone. And I said, ‘Boy, that’s pretty unpresidential. This is going to be one of the shortest presidential elections you’ve ever seen,'” Elder said, according to a transcript of his speech.

But the next day when he was in Sunland, he said several people came up to him and all spoke positively about Trump. He told of a man who said, “This guy connects the way … no one else has connected in a long time.”

The next evening, he went to his radio show and told his listeners to stand behind Trump. Later in the campaign, he joined Trump on a campaign rally in Cleveland and was impressed that the candidate spoke about the importance of giving parents a choice of where their children go to school.

He made another important link to Trump’s world years ago. It happened when he repeatedly welcomed a Conservative high school student, Stephen Miller, as a guest on his radio show. By 2016, Miller had become Trump’s adviser, and Elder emailed his old protégé with instructions on how the Republican candidate should discuss the issue of illegal immigration and revive previous sexual misconduct allegations against Bill Clinton.

After Trump made it to the White House, Elder often stepped in in his defense. In a radio commentary on the inauguration, he ridiculed the participants in the Women’s March against Trump as “obese”.

“If you look at all of these women who have marched, about 2 million, Donald Trump probably got more obese women off the couch and onto the streets to exercise than Michelle Obama did in eight years,” Elder said in 2017 for the first time reported by CNN.

Elder dismissed many critics as unable to objectively assess the former president’s actions and accused them of suffering from “Trump Derangement Syndrome.”

One case came when Congressional negotiators said Trump was speaking of “S-hole countries” during an immigration debate and wondered why America was accepting more immigrants from Africa than from countries like Norway. Critics called it racist.

Elder argued in a column that Democrats were hypocrites to criticize the president because he believed others had made similar observations. He recalled that when President Obama described the difficulty of achieving peace in the Middle East, he allegedly said privately, “If only everyone could be like the Scandinavians, it would all be easy.”

Elder wanted to know why Trump was being labeled “racist,” but Obama wasn’t.

He wrote another column on the eve of Trump’s 2020 re-election offer, cataloging a list of the president’s accomplishments. He attributed low taxes, a strong economy, and negotiating peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Sudan to Trump.

Many outraged Trump for fueling racial tensions, but Elder took the opposite view. He credited the president with “presiding over the best black unemployment figures in American history” and signing a law to reduce sentences for prisoners, including many black men convicted of crack cocaine offenses.

“Imagine where Trump would do in the polls,” Elder wrote, “without the constant, relentless negative media coverage and deranged opposition that would have suffocated the average politician.”

The admiration flowed both ways. In negotiating debates against Biden, Trump’s team named Elder as a possible moderator.

Soon after entering the governor’s race, it became clear that Elder would try to project a more modulated relationship with Trump and the Trump era. He told a group of newspaper opinion editors, “I think Joe Biden won the election fairly and directly.”

That instantly infuriated some Trump believers, such as Jenna Ellis, a lawyer who continued to enforce Trump’s 2020 election fraud claims despite having been rejected by election officials and multiple courts.

“That could cost @larryelder a lot of votes in California,” tweeted Ellis on the subject. “I totally disagree with his comments here and he has clearly been badly advised.”

Elder then revised his position. He told Newsweek that he gave the response to “advance the hostile interview” while trying to focus on other topics that he said the Californians were more interested in. The Republican leader in the recall also urged voters to take into account the many times on the radio and in his column that he had expressed “extreme skepticism about the fairness of the 2020 election”.

In an interview in early August, Elder protested when host Michael Smerconish introduced him as a “Trump-supportive radio host.”

“I voted for Bob Dole. I voted for Mitt Romney. I voted for George W. Bush. I voted for George Herbert Walker Bush, ”Elder said,“ and whoever the standard-bearer is in 2024, I will vote for him or her, too. So I’m a Republican. … It’s a little unfair, in my opinion, to call me a Trump-supporting radio host. “

Trump and Newsom had a surprisingly cordial, if inconsistent, relationship while the former president was still in office. The California Democrat criticized the Republican President, for example, when he attributed the forest fires in California to inadequate “raking” of the forests. But Newsom and Trump also praised each other for their cooperation in natural disasters.

With just over a week to go to the end of the recall vote, the former president didn’t interfere in the race.

The “divine intervention” Elder felt from Trump just two years ago felt good in the rear-view mirror for the past few days when Candidate Elder used another CNN interview to say he was “indifferent,” whether he would be supported by the former president. Elder’s remarks suggested that his position was a matter of geography, not politics.

“If he wants to give me the confirmation, fine. If he doesn’t want to validate me, that’s fine, ”Elder said. “I didn’t ask him. I did not request it. I have not encouraged anyone from the outside [of California] to support me, no matter who he or she is. “

Elder seemed to like a new comparison with Trump. It came from the London Times, which on August 21 ran the headline: “Larry Elder, the ‘Black Trump’, is about to wrest California from the Democrats.” The candidate tweeted a link to the story.

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