Posted: 4:21 pm Monday, July 11th, 2016
By Jamie Dupree
As speculation swirled over his choice of a running mate, Donald Trump used a speech in Virginia on Monday to argue that he would be the best candidate to deal with the growing national debate over race and law enforcement.
“We must maintain law and order at the highest level, or we will cease to have a country,” Trump told his audience.
While Trump’s speech was supposed to be a focus in Virginia Beach on reform of the VA, his line – that almost seemed directly out of the GOP playbook of 1968 – drew immediate attention.
“I am the law and order candidate,” Trump said, carefully emphasizing each word in that sentence, as he brought back echoes of Republican campaigns of the past, and drew loud cheers from his audience.
The phrase “law and order” is nothing new in the American political arena, as it gained prominence in the 1960’s when Republicans sought to portray Democrats as weak on crime.
Richard Nixon featured that line throughout his successful bid for President in 1968.
“And to those who say that law and order is the code word for racism, there and here is a reply,” Nixon said at the GOP convention.
“Our goal is justice for every American,” Nixon added.
One of Nixon’s ads in 1968 vowed, “We shall have order in the United States.”
The police shootings of black men last week in Minnesota and Louisiana, along with the killing of five white police officers in Dallas has tossed the issue of race and law enforcement squarely into the 2016 race – and for some, might well remind them of the 1968 campaign.
Maybe Trump had said something similar in recent months, but it was the first time I remembered such a clear “law and order” phrase in his speech, which he carefully read off a teleprompter.
“Our inner cities have been left totally behind, and I am going to fight to make sure every citizen in this country has a safe home, a safe school and a safe community,” Trump argued.
Trump campaigned on Monday with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, someone who has been high on his list as a running mate.
On Tuesday, Trump will stump with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who has also been talked about a choice for VP.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.