White nationalists have found a champion they can get excited about in Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, but they’re having a tough time getting their message through as they face a backlash from voters who reject it.
The American National Super PAC, founded by the leader of the American Freedom Party, said it has paid for “hundreds of thousands” of robocalls boosting Mr. Trump to Iowa voters ahead of the state’s Feb. 1 caucuses. The automated phone call campaign began last week.
But the American Freedom Party’s efforts to air a pro-Trump talk show on an Iowa radio station were nixed after callers flooded the station with complaints.
William Johnson, chairman of the American Freedom Party, said the Des Moines Radio Group canceled plans to broadcast his group’s “For God and Country” show on KPSZ-AM after station lawyers said the program shouldn’t air. KPSZ officials said they would return the group’s check uncashed.
A plank in the American Freedom Party’s platform calls for freedom from “the immigration invasion,” saying that the “core European American population never wanted their country to be overwhelmed and fundamentally altered.”
The host of “For God and Country,” the Rev. Ronald Tan, said the party “wanted to offer a different perspective because everyone is bad-mouthing Donald Trump.”
“I think he’s very courageous. He strikes a chord across party lines,” Mr. Tan told The Washington Times. “Of all the candidates, he’s the only one who has the courage to say what needs to be said and sticks by it. If there’s anyone who can turn America back to the right direction, it would be him.”
Mr. Trump’s calls for deporting illegal immigrants and for halting the entry of Muslims into the country have struck a chord with some voters — including those who identify with the white nationalist movement.
However, Mary Anna Mancuso, a political strategist based in Florida, said support from “far-right” groups could create problems for Mr. Trump.
“Endorsements from extremists, whether invited or not, have the potential to tarnish the Trump campaign,” Ms. Mancuso told The Times. “Trump can shrug off the endorsement of groups such as white supremacists as an anomaly, but what will he do if outlaw biker gangs such as the Hell’s Angels start showing up to his rallies and publicly endorse him? One endorsement may be random, but two extremist groups has the potential to become a trend.”
National Review editor Rich Lowry, who defended Mr. Trump when he came under fire last year for his comments about Mexican immigrants, said it is not uncommon for bold candidates to receive unwelcome support from extremists.
“My first reflex on these kinds of things is that, what characters support you doesn’t say anything about you as long as you don’t support them,” Mr. Lowry told The Times. “President Reagan had the support of the John Birch Society and even the KKK, but so what?”
Mr. Trump’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment, but he himself in August repudiated praise from former Ku Klux Klan official David Duke, who said on his radio show that Mr. Trump is “the best of the lot” of GOP candidates.
“I don’t need [Mr. Duke’s] endorsement. I don’t want his endorsement,” Mr. Trump told Bloomberg. “I don’t need anyone’s endorsement.”
The robocalls, which are still active in Iowa, focus on immigration.
“I urge you to vote for Donald Trump because he is the one candidate who points out that we should accept immigrants who are good for America. We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump,” Jared Taylor, a Yale graduate once hailed as the “cosmopolitan face of white supremacy” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, says in the call.
Mr. Taylor, who writes for the website American Renaissance, has been enthusiastic about Mr. Trump, calling him “easily the best presidential candidate on border security and immigration since Pat Buchanan.”
And white nationalists are rallying to the call, with Southern neo-Confederates and old-school white supremacists who typically shun Republican candidates as too weak hailing Mr. Trump as the figure they have long awaited.
“I think a comparable moment just happened in American politics with marginalized and disaffected voters. All those people, long laughed at and excluded from the ‘mainstream,’ who were cast out beyond the wall of ‘respectability,’ are now in the tank for Donald Trump,” neo-Confederate Brad Griffin wrote on his website Occidental Dissent. “The signal has gone out to join the Trump campaign and to openly organize under the banner of the Republican front-runner to take down the hated establishment.”
Although the support is unsolicited by Mr. Trump, Mark Potok, editor in chief of the Intelligence Report, a quarterly journal published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, said there’s little doubt he’s consciously tapping into it.
“It’s hard to say what is in Donald Trump’s mind, but there is no question he’s taking positions that are white nationalist, and sometimes he goes beyond that,” Mr. Potok told The Times. “I’ve never heard anyone call for deporting citizen children before, but Trump does, and that’s remarkable. It’s rare to hear in the world of white supremacy building a 1,900-mile wall. I think he understands what he’s doing. He’s dog-whistling to extremists in his space, and he understands that perfectly.”