By Maggie Haberman
April 3, 2016
Donald J. Trump, criticized for months for his comments on race, is about to be bolstered by a multi-cultural network of supporters hoping to tell a different side of his story.
The “National Diversity Coalition for Trump” was the brainchild of Michael Cohen, a longtime adviser to Mr. Trump at his company, who worked with Pastor Darrell Scott, a Trump supporter based in Cleveland, and a friend of Mr. Cohen. The group is planning to create a website that will showcase other supporters of Mr. Trump, who is a native of a diverse city but who is running in a party primary dominated by older, whiter voters.
“I know Mr. Trump and I know that there is not an ounce of truth to any of the allegations lodged against him by the liberal media. He’s not racist, misogynist, sexist or Islamophobic,” Mr. Scott said in an interview on Sunday.
“We need to let the world see that this depiction of Mr. Trump is not the reality that” he and Mr. Cohen know, he said.
“It began as a minority coalition for Trump, but we changed it to ‘Diversity Coalition for Trump.’ We changed it because we didn’t want to discriminate against white people,” Mr. Scott said, with a laugh. The website is still in formation, but other supporters, such as the former “Apprentice” star Omarosa Manigault, who has been a frequent surrogate for Mr. Trump, will appear.
Mr. Cohen, who stressed that he is not working for the campaign, said he presented his boss with a request to appear at a mosque recently.
“Mr. Trump is purely a performance-based critic,” said Mr. Cohen, adding, “The media and the establishment of both political parties are trying to convince the American people that Mr. Trump can only appeal to white, blue-collar men. That’s patently false. Mr. Trump appeals to all Americans and will be a great unifier when elected president.”
Mr. Trump has tried before to pivot toward a greater show of diversity, with difficulty. A planned meeting with prominent pastors at Trump Tower in November, after a Black Lives Matter protester was kicked and punched at a Trump rally, became a media circus. Mr. Trump described the meeting as “amazing,” but some of the pastors were demure about whether they planned to make an endorsement. And Republican leaders are openly concerned that Mr. Trump’s unfettered comments about immigration and other topics have badly damaged him with general election voters.
But Mr. Scott said that his group had become an umbrella for other coalitions of supporters for Mr. Trump. The group will include Muslim, Asian and Hispanic supporters of Mr. Trump.
Ahead of Tuesday’s primary in Wisconsin, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is targeting John Kasich with a TV attack ad for the first time, suggesting that Mr. Kasich engaged in cronyism as Ohio’s governor.
The commercial brings up Mr. Kasich’s lucrative earnings as a board member of Worthington Industries, an Ohio-based steel processor, before saying that the company received hundred of thousands of dollars in tax breaks after Mr. Kasich became governor. The ad also says that the company laid off workers last year, while its chief executive donated $500,000 to an outside group supporting Mr. Kasich.
The Cruz campaign has sent mailers attacking Mr. Kasich over Ohio’s spending during his time as governor, as well as his record on guns and the military when he served in Congress.
“Despite having no pathway to the nomination, Kasich insists on continuing his quixotic auditioning tour to become Donald Trump’s vice president,” Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for Mr. Cruz, said on Sunday. “So far his greatest strength has been anonymity — we’re simply shining some light on his record.”
Mr. Kasich has repeatedly insisted he will not be anyone’s running mate. His ties to Worthington Industries have previously received scrutiny in Ohio, including from the Democratic challenger whom Mr. Kasich went on to defeat to win a second term in 2014.
“Ted Cruz is recycling failed Democrat attacks in a desperate effort to smear Governor Kasich,” John Weaver, Mr. Kasich’s chief strategist, said in response to the TV ad. “It didn’t work for dishonest Ohio Democrats in 2014 and won’t work for deceptive Ted Cruz now.”
Mr. Weaver offered his own attack on Mr. Cruz, bringing up the loan from Goldman Sachs that Mr. Cruz failed to report during his 2012 Senate campaign. “Cruz’s attack and own hypocrisy are further proof that the voters can’t trust him and he will do anything to win,” Mr. Weaver said.
Mr. Cruz and Mr. Kasich have scarcely tangled with each other during the Republican primary, in large measure because they tend to appeal to different swaths of the Republican electorate. And given his lower profile throughout the race, Mr. Kasich has tended not to be a magnet for his rivals’ attacks.
But with the Republican field down to three candidates, the two men and their allies have been increasingly at odds, with Mr. Cruz calling Mr. Kasich a spoiler and Mr. Kasich insisting Mr. Cruz cannot win in November.
Mr. Cruz appears to have an edge over Donald J. Trump heading into Tuesday’s primary in Wisconsin, in which delegates are awarded to the statewide winner and to the winners of its eight congressional districts.
Mr. Kasich is expected to finish third in the state, but a poll released last week by Marquette University Law School showed Mr. Kasich with strength in the Madison media market, and he told reporters in Wisconsin on Saturday that he hoped to win a few delegates in the state. The decision by Mr. Cruz’s team to go after Mr. Kasich suggests the Cruz campaign views itself as in competition with Mr. Kasich for at least some voters.
Last week, an outside group supporting Mr. Cruz released a commercial that criticized Mr. Kasich’s “liberal record” and tied him, inaccurately, to the liberal billionaire George Soros. Another ad released by the group went after Mr. Kasich for expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, showing President Obama giving Mr. Kasich credit for taking such action.
A group backing Mr. Kasich — the same one supported by the chief executive of Worthington Industries — released its own ad describing Mr. Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted,” adopting a nickname favored by Mr. Trump. Mr. Kasich objected to that characterization and urged that the ad be taken down.
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