OPINION: Why Donald Trump Keeps Coming to Philly

Vourvoulias: The night before his visits, his campaign always seems to make a media-memorable gaffe — but there might be a method despite the madness.

In what is becoming something of a tradition, the night before a Donald Trump Philly visit, something media-memorable happens.

Last week it was Marco Gutierrez, the co-founder of Latinos for Trump, on MSNBC warning that one of the dire consequences of continued immigration would be “taco trucks on every corner.”


Then last night — in advance of Trump’s scheduled appearance at the Union League today — Trump’s social media team allowed a tweet to go out marking anti-feminist Phylllis Schlafly’s death … only it was spelled “Phillies” Schlafly.

Uh, oh. Guess the Donald’s got Philadelphia on his mind — and probably not because of the ho-hum season the fourth-place NL East team is having.

The most recent CBS News poll puts Trump behind Hillary Clinton by some eight points (Clinton 45 percent, Trump 37 percent), but an equally recent Washington Post-Survey Monkey poll makes it a much closer race — with Clinton leading by a mere 4 percentage points (Clinton 47 percent, Trump 43 percent).

Philadelphia, of course, is a solidly Democratic city, and a majority-minority city to boot. Non-whites favor Clinton over Trump by a nearly 4 to 1 margin, according to the latest CNN poll (which also has Clinton leading overall by 4 percentage points).

Still, a conservative analysis by the National Review’s Brandon Finnigan argues that the city has been shedding Democratic voters (46,000 since November 2012), and with Trump’s appeal to white, blue-collar workers he may “transform the insurmountable to the manageable,” particularly with a strong showing in the 66th Ward. Finnigan also believes that if Trump aims the same “you’re getting screwed” message at non-white voters as he has to white voters, he can take Pennsylvania.
Trump seems to be trying his hand at it. When he was in Philly last week, he met with conservative Black religious and political leaders at the North Philadelphia catering hall of People for People (a nonprofit founded by the senior pastor of Greater Exodus Baptist Church Rev. Dr. Herbert Lusk) and argued that African-Americans in the city have been poorly served by years of Democratic leadership.

While Trump spoke, Asa Khalif — one of the city’s Black Lives Matters leaders — led a hundred or so people in a protest near the venue, on Broad and Brown streets. Members of the Philadelphia Coalition for Real Justice and the South Philadelphia immigrant advocacy organization Juntos were also part of the protest.

“Mr. Trump, you picked the wrong city to come to,” said Veronica Castillo Perez, a Mexican-American arts administrator who was part of the protest. “You picked the wrong city. Because you are not wanted here … and you sure as hell are not going to be elected president.”

Truth is, many of Philadelphia’s most prominent people of color are completely unconvinced by Trump’s new outreach. In a September 2nd Instagram post Malcolm Kenyatta, the membership engagement coordinator at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, wrote: “Trump doesn’t represent the values of Philadelphia and we don’t want him in North Philly. Proud to stand today with Council President Darrell L. Clarke, Councilwomen Helen Gym & Maria D Quinones Sanchez, Congressman-Elect Dwight Evans, Sen-Elect Sharif Street, Rev. Sturdivant and other political/religious leaders to send a clear message about his offensive and insincere ‘outreach’ to POC.”

Today’s meeting at the Union League is reportedly going to center on military preparedness and national security, and, given that it is taking place four days before the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, is likely to include harsh words for those people of color — Muslims and immigrants — Trump has most thoroughly vilified as terrorists and criminals.

I wish the aftermath of Trump’s visits were as entertaining as the preludes.

I fully expect the Phillies Schlafly tweet will prompt memes and who knows what other craziness (one should never underestimate Phillies fans).

The taco trucks comment generated not only memes but a stunning WaPo calculation of just how many taco trucks it might take to have one at each intersection of the nation, as well as cheery jaunts to fill up on tacos at great non-truck venues like the Philly Tacos stand at Headhouse Farmer’s Market and South Philly Barbacoa.

But what will be generated by Trump’s talk at the Union League today?

Who can say?

But we can say this: If Trump excludes and disrespects and vilifies and misrepresents, we don’t want him in Philadelphia.