Republican party strategist, donor says Trump 'tone-deaf', missed opportunity during protests to get African-American support

A Republican Party strategist says President Donald Trump has been "tone-deaf" and missed an "enormous opportunity" to garner the support of African-Americans following the death of George Floyd last month.

Large protests have spread across the United States - and the world - over the last week after a police officer kneeled on the neck of Floyd for nearly nine minutes. Demonstrators are calling for an end to racism and police brutality, but many protests have turned into riots and looting, leading Trump to threaten military intervention.

That announcement earlier this week, a photo-op Trump participated in outside a church afterwards and his overall handling of this latest saga has been widely criticised. While never a Trump fan, an Alaskan Republican Senator on Friday said she is "struggling" with supporting Trump at this year's election. 

Lisa Murkowski supported a new opinion piece by former Trump Defence Secretary Jim Mattis where he says Trump is "the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people - does not even pretend to try". He said protesters are "rightly demanding" equal justice and Americans must reject "thinking of our cities as a 'battlespace'."

Trump's current Defence Secretary on Thursday said he doesn't support using active duty forces to quell civil unrest.

Speaking to The AM Show, Republican strategist and donor John Jordan said Esper and Mattis were trying to protect the independence of the military.

"In addition to being American patriots, they are also institutionalists. They care about the armed forces of the United States, which according to every poll, is the one institution in America that is most trusted. They want to preserve the apolitical nature of the American military and the special trust it enjoys with the American public."

He doesn't expect Trump to immediately fire Esper for the difference of opinion as it wouldn't help his situation in the current political environment, but he may look to make changes if he wins the election in November. 

To do that, Trump will have to beat Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee. Jordan said, currently, the President has a solid base of voters. While Biden may be consistently polling higher, his support was "soft". 

"Joe Biden's support is very soft. The Democrat Party is very fragmented between those who that are the centrists and the far-left. His numbers may be somewhat higher but they are a lot softer."

He said Biden has only so far really popped up during crises and "hasn't been defined by the rigours of a campaign yet". 

Jordan said Biden has tried to become President since the 1980s and authored a 1994 Act which became divisive after contributing to the prison population, something Biden debates.

The strategist said the current protests had provided Trump with an opportunity to garner the support of African-Americans, whose vote the President has been after for a while. For example, a Trump campaign Super Bowl ad earlier this year highlighted how the President commuted an African-American women's prison sentence. 

"He had a missed opportunity to sew up a lot of support and… those types of opportunities don't come along very often," he said.

Jordan, who knows the President personally, called Trump "tone-deaf".

"He is a very empathetic kinda in person if he knows you. But when he feels he is under siege or cornered he can become very distrustful. In this case, he reacted rather than thinking through the depth, breadth and width of the problem and seizing the emotions of the moment to bring the country together," he said.

"It is an extraordinary tone-deafness which caused him to miss this enormous opportunity, not only for himself, but for the country."

Jordan said Trump trusts his own instincts but should go through the "intellectual rigour" of debating and examining issues with others.

He said the President's unfair treatment in the media meant he was using Twitter to talk directly to the public.

"That's a huge advantage and it drives the American media crazy as they are no longer able, for the first time in history, to modulate the words of American politicians, an enormous power to which the American press has become accustomed."

But it also meant he had to choose his words more carefully. Twitter has recently put warning labels on some tweets, including saying one glorified violence.