Inside Donald Trump’s strategic decision to target Muslims

Jenna Johnson reports: Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric has ranged widely: He has long stoked the idea that Obama might be a secret follower of Islam. Two months before proposing the Muslim ban, Trump announced he would kick all Syrian refugees out of the country and bar any others from coming in because they could be a “Trojan horse.” Trump also suggested killing the innocent relatives of terrorists.

“I’ve had good instincts in life, and a lot of this is instinct,” Trump said, adding that three of his Republican primary rivals “confidentially” told him that they agreed with the ban but could not publicly endorse it.

By February — after losing the Iowa caucuses and winning the New Hampshire primary — Trump focused on the next contest in South Carolina. The night before the primary, he told an apocryphal tale that he would return to again and again about U.S. Gen. John J. Pershing fighting Muslim insurgents in the Philippines in the early 1900s.

“He took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs’ blood,” Trump said. “And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said: ‘You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem.”

Lewandowski said in an interview before his firing that the telling of the story was planned ahead of time. He said it doesn’t matter that it isn’t true. [Continue reading…]

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