CNN host Anderson Cooper discussed President Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric ahead of Election Day, focusing a segment of his program Monday evening on Trump’s denunciations of the more-than-7,000-strong migrant caravan heading north toward the United States.
Inviting a response from fellow CNN host and former Obama administration official Van Jones, Cooper suggested that, from a political standpoint, “a caravan like this, weeks before a midterm election, seems to serve the president’s interest more than the Democrats’.”
Jones agreed, going on to take issue with several statements Trump and other GOP officials have made about the thousands of Central Americans marching toward the U.S. border.
The president said last week during a rally in Montana that “a lot of money has been passing through people to come up and try and get to the border by Election Day because they think that’s a negative for us.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, shared a video on Twitter of migrants receiving payments and suggested liberal financier George Soros might be responsible.
Jones questioned the assertion that Democrats or leftist political operatives could be funding the caravan.
“I think it’s much more likely that Donald Trump is paying for this than for George Soros to be paying for it,” he said.
Jones went on to describe the mass migration as “exactly the worst kind of thing to be happening” for Democrats seeking elected office in the midterms.
Video footage and news reports of the caravan give Trump “another talking point” in making his case on illegal immigration to voters, the CNN host said.
Jones further criticized Trump for singling out Middle Easterners as possible bad actors hidden within the group of migrants.
Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. Must change laws!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2018
“I do just want to say one thing, which is just because someone is Middle Eastern — of course there are no Middle Eastern people there — but that doesn’t mean that they’re bad,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that they’re a terrorist.”
Vice President Mike Pence expounded on Trump’s concerns when asked about the issue at an event Tuesday.
— The Hill (@thehill) October 23, 2018
“It is inconceivable that there are not people of Middle Eastern descent in a crowd of more than 7,000 people advancing toward our border,” Pence said.
He went on to say U.S. officials have apprehended “more than 10 terrorists or suspected terrorists per day at our southern border from countries that are referred to in the lexicon as ‘other than Mexico.'”
Although Trump didn’t say the “unknown Middle Easterners” in the caravan are terrorists, Jones criticized the implication. He said “right-wing extremists” are responsible for most of the terrorist attacks in the U.S.
“We’re in this world now where Trump can say ‘Middle Eastern’ and everybody then immediately somehow thinks of terrorists,” Jones said. “Most of the terrorist incidents that we’ve had in the United States are not being committed by Middle Eastern people, by Muslims. They’re being committed by right-wing extremists in our own country.”
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