Understanding Identity Politics in Trump Country

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NEW YORK CITY - JUNE 25 2016: Several dozen supporters of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump gathered in front of Trump Tower to voice their support for the billionaire developer.
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Click on the 'Listen' button above to hear this interview.

Reports emerged this weekend that Donald Trump may abandon his plan to use a "deportation force" to round up an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. Though the GOP nominee's campaign quickly denounced the veracity of these reports, Trump's surrogates refused to clarify whether or not he had changed his position.

"To be determined," said Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager.

"He's thinking that through," said Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Is this just a strategy to appease white voters who are concerned that Trump is racist, or is it affirmation for those who embrace and adore him for such xenophobia?  David Weigel, a writer with The Washington Post, explores the notion of Trump as a champion of racialists.

But attempts to understand the Trump movement are many and varied. Two of the most common heard refrains are that Trump voters are either experiencing some form of "economic anxiety" due to the result of the death of manufacturing jobs in the U.S., or that the campaign is fueled by a latent racism, seen as a backlash against the Obama years.

But the truth is that there is no portrait of a Trump supporter. Over the course of four months, journalist Alexander Zaitchik went through the heart of Trump country, traveling to places symbolically resonant with the Trump campaign in Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and California. 

With over 13 million Trump voters, he doesn't claim to speak for all of them, or even most, and that may just be his point. Zaitchik did get to know about 100 Trump supporters — he learned their personal stories, and not just their political leanings. To Zaitchik, race is just a small element of a much more nuanced picture. He shares his findings in a new book, "The Gilded Rage: A Wild Ride through Donald Trump's America."

Check out a video of Zaitchik's reporting below, and click on the 'Listen' button above to hear our full interview with both Zaitchik and Weigel.