File photo taken on July 16, 2016 shows Donald Trump speaking during a campaign event in New York, the United States. New York billionaire Donald Trump clinched enough delegate votes to be officially selected as Republican presidential nominee Tuesday evening in the roll call voting at the ongoing Republican National Convention. (Xinhua file photo/Li Muzi)
by Matthew Rusling
WASHINGTON, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- Recent days have seen U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton take opposite stances on the tensions between police and African Americans, reflecting a cavernous gap between how the nation's left and right view the situation.
At a time of increased police-black tensions in the U.S., the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin has in recent days witnessed racial riots and looting following the killing of an armed black man by a police officer.
Both Trump and Clinton have differing views of the situation. While Clinton has expressed support for the police, her emphasis has been mostly on social justice - a clear play toward black voters, a crucial part of her base.
In sharp contrast, Trump has emphasized support for the police, at a time when they are under fire from U.S. media, and after a couple of incidents in which officers were lured, ambushed and shot dead by black gunmen.
TRUMP IS STICKING CLOSE TO COPS
"Sticking close to the police is a smart strategy for Trump," Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies of the Brookings Institution, told Xinhua.
"This plays to his broader narrative about the need to restore order in the United States and the risks of urban unrest. That strategy won't help him with minorities but Trump has cast his lot with white voters so focusing on law enforcement will help him with his base voters," West said.
Dan Mahaffee, an analyst with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, told Xinhua that Trump's focus on the police is one that certainly appeals to the base.
Start with former U.S. President Richard Nixon, a long series of Republican presidential campaigns highlighted "law and order" issues.
But while police are still among the most trusted U.S. institutions, that trust has been greatly shaken by a greater awareness of police brutality issues, Mahaffee said.
Still, there's a gap between how Trump's base sees the country and how the broader electorate sees the United States.
While Trump's base looks at rioting and increased attacks as evidence that America is becoming increasingly unsafe, a wider portion of the electorate continues to see numbers that show violent crime at its lowest levels in years, and wonder if emphasis on "law and order" is real or a way to play on some voters' insecurities and prejudices, Mahaffee said.
CLINTON LEANING TOWARD VIEW THAT POLICE NEED TO REFORM
In comparison, West said Clinton leans more to the minority view of law enforcement being out of control and needing to do a better job in its treatment of African-Americans.
Clinton is more empathetic to those who have been hassled by the police and those who have been shot. This helps her among minority voters and independents who think the police have become a big problem in urban America.
Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, noted that Clinton also supports the police, but she wants to do it in ways that create calm, justice, and safety on the streets.
"So Trump's efforts to frame it this way don't necessarily mean that is how the public will see it. Given his poll numbers it is not clear this will make a big difference," Zelizer told Xinhua.
Zelizer said the struggle against racism in policing is more than appealing to Clinton's base.
"This is an issue that has bothered many people and there is support for efforts to change the basic dynamics on the street," he said.
Mahaffee said while Clinton's view on mending problems between police and African Americans reflects the opinion of her base, it also reflects the view of more moderate, younger, and more educated Americans who have seen, now first-hand via cell phone recordings and body cameras, both the dangers the police face and the incidents where police have used unjustified force.
This, in turn, has fostered a greater willingness to improve dialogue on these issues, and look to examples of urban police departments where police leadership have improved their relationship with the community, he said.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- While U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's strong point is his tough stance on fighting terrorism, he is having trouble staying focused on the issue as his temper continues to be distractive, experts said. Full story
WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's Vice Presidential running mate Mike Pence has a more positive image than Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's VP choice Tim Kaine, a latest Gallup poll has found.Full story