Liberal columnist: Clinton must use fear of Trump to drive voters

Story highlights

  • EJ Dionne said he sees some racism behind the anger driving Trump supporters
  • He argued that fear of Trump can be as powerful a motivator as hope for Clinton

The Axe Files, featuring David Axelrod, is a podcast distributed by CNN and produced at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The author works at the institute.

Washington (CNN)While much of Donald Trump's support stems from widespread anger about the country's economic divide, there is another element fueling the GOP nominee's success, says long-time Washington Post political columnist EJ Dionne: racism.

"People out there who are angry did not make up their reasons for being angry. There is a legitimacy to their protests,"Dionne told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files" podcast, produced by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.
The conversation was recorded last week, hours before Hillary Clinton gave her much-quoted remarks at a New York City fundraiser at which she depicted half of Trump's supporters as belonging to a "basket of deplorables," driven by their biases to support his candidacy. But Dionne asserted his own view that Trump's appeal was a play to prejudice.
    "But we will also have to look back and say what part of the Trump movement was not primarily about this economic protest, but really was... people who are uneasy with the changes in the country, with the changes in the culture? And then in the case of a piece of it, you know, outright racism," Dionne said. "What was birtherism if not something that played at racial feeling in the country?"
    During the hour-long conversation with Axelrod, Dionne, author of the new book "Why the Right Went Wrong", said that in this bitter campaign, Hillary Clinton would have to rely, in part, on fears of a Trump presidency to drive turnout in her favor on Election Day.
    "The question is will she get enough turnout from the old Obama coalition, particularly from African-Americans who turned out in record numbers for President Obama, to some degree from Latinos, and then also from [Bernie Sanders supporters] and young people? I think Trump's radicalism or extremism, the sense of threat people feel from the possibility of a Trump presidency, can inspire a lot of turnout," Dionne told Axelrod. "We forget that sometimes fear inspires at least as much turnout as hope. I think Trump sort of strikes fear in the hearts of a lot of not only traditional Democrats but middle of the road Republicans."
    To hear the full interview with Dionne, which also touched on his start in journalism and the Catholic Church under Pope Francis, click on To get "The Axe Files" podcast every week, subscribe at