President Trump shows no sign of abandoning his alt-right support base, according to Richard Spencer, the white nationalist attributed with coining the term and one of the racist ideology’s leading voices.
“Trump has never denounced the Alt-Right. Nor will he,” Mr. Spencer, the president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think-tank, tweeted Tuesday evening during the president’s campaign-style rally in Phoenix.
Mr. Spencer had been scheduled to headline the “Unite the Right” demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 11, but the rally was canceled when participants including neo-Nazis and white supremacists violently clashed with counterprotesters before the event began. Police later arrested a man identified as a “Unite the Right” attendee for driving his automobile that afternoon into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one person and injuring 19 others.
Mr. Trump subsequently ignited a firestorm for blaming “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville instead of immediately denouncing the far-right extremists at the center of the “Unite the Right” rally. Critics have accused the president of all but endorsing the rally’s most radical participants by not explicitly calling them out by name in the wake of last week’s bloodshed.
Addressing that criticism during a rambling hourlong rally in Phoenix, Mr. Trump condemned hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan while also blaming the media for its coverage of his comments on Charlottesville.
“The very dishonest media … and I mean truly dishonest people, in the media, and the fake media, they make up stories, they have no sources in many cases,” Mr. Trump said. “They don’t report the facts. Just like they don’t want to report that I spoke out forcefully against hatred, bigotry and violence and strongly condemned the neo-Nazis, the white supremacists and the KKK.”
As noted by Mr. Spencer, however, the president omitted the alt-right while condemning the rally’s participants.
Mr. Trump responded days earlier to a question about the alt-right’s role in the Charlottesville violence by deferring to what he called the “alt-left.”
“Define alt-right to me,” Mr. Trump challenged a reporter during a heated press conference last week. “You define it. Define it for me. Come on. Let’s go.”
“What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right?” Mr. Trump continued. “Do they have any semblance of guilt?”
Hate group watchdogs including the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center have identified Mr. Spencer, 39, as one of the nation’s leading white nationalists and a prominent figure among the alt-right, “an extremely loose movement, made up of different strands of people connected to white supremacy,” according to the ADL.
Last week, Mr. Spencer applauded the president’s initial remarks about Charlottesville: “He bucked the narrative of Alt-Right violence, and made a statement that is fair and down to earth.”