Everyone celebrates holidays in their own way. Some people celebrate Cinco de Mayo by remembering the Mexican Army’s bravery in their 1862 victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla. Others celebrate by wearing cheap sombreros, drinking tequila shots at inauthentic Mexican restaurants, and generally being the worst.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump celebrated by attempting to pivot from a reliance on anti-Hispanic rhetoric, which was a key part of his primary campaign, to the more inclusive tone necessary to attract independents in a general election.
Trump’s strategy, of course, involved bragging about the quality of the taco salad at a restaurant bearing his name.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 5, 2016
Late last year, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton received criticism for a blog post on her website entitled, “7 things Hillary Clinton has in common with your abuela,” but in contrast to Trump, her post did not advertise a restaurant business and conclude with, “I love Hispanics!”
Naturally, people with takes to offer drenched the Internet with those takes like a creamy cilantro dressing over a sad pile of lettuce, black beans, chopped tomatoes, and ground beef. But the best take is the one that provided a window directly into the rapidly crumbling soul of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
In an interview on Friday morning, Politico Chief White House Correspondent Mike Allen asked Priebus about Trump’s tweet. With a look in his eye that recalled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie‘s endorsement of Trump—during which the governor marshalled all the enthusiasm of someone being forced to chant an incantation bringing on the apocalypse—Priebus stared intensely at a spot on the floor and responded, “He’s trying.”
The audience erupted in laughter.
“Honestly,” Priebus continued, “he’s trying. I’ll tell you what. I honestly think he understand that building and unifying the growing the party is the only way we’re going to win.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 6, 2016
After Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential election, the RNC, under Priebus’s leadership, published a postmortem report evaluating the party’s failures and recommending changes that would improve its performance in the future.
Chief among the report’s suggestions was to increase outreach to minority communities—especially Hispanics—both to bring those groups into the GOP’s big tent and to appeal to white moderates who refused to support a party openly hostile to diversity.
According to a recent Gallup poll, only 12 percent of U.S. Hispanics hold a favorable view of Trump, with 77 percent viewing the real-estate-heir-turned-reality-TV-star unfavorably.
Priebus may want his party to make inroads with Hispanics, but Trump has made that particular mountain of taco salad significantly more difficult to summit.