Donald Trump, a presidential candidate whose campaign has been a little too much even for former KKK grand wizard David Duke, received some perhaps unwelcome support this month in the form of a pro-Trump robocall from an openly white nationalist group. After a considerable amount of prodding, CNN’s Erin Burnett got the candidate to go on record disavowing the group’s endorsement last week, but according to its leader, there’s really no hard feelings at all.
In early January, the pro-white American National Super PAC began a campaign of automated calls in Iowa urging voters to support Trump because of his staunchly anti-immigrant views. In a press release about the campaign, American National called Trump America’s “Great White Hope,” and its founder told Talking Points Memo he was optimistic about the possibility of “a white ethno-state, a country made up of only white people,” within his lifetime.
BURNETT: Mr. Trump, when you hear that, does that shock you? Do you denounce that?
TRUMP: Nothing in this country shocks me. I would disavow it, but nothing in this country shocks me. People are angry. They’re angry at what’s going on. They’re angry at the border. They’re angry at the crime. They’re angry at people coming in and shooting Kate in the back in California and San Francisco. They’re angry when Jamiel Shaw shot in the face by an illegal immigrant. They’re angry when the woman, the veteran, 65 years old is raped, sodomized, and killed by an illegal immigrant. And, they’re very angry about it, and — by the way, thousands of other cases like that. They’re very angry about it. So, I would disavow that, but I will tell you people are extremely angry.
BURNETT: People are extremely angry, but to be clear, when he says, “We need smart, well-educated white people to assimilate to our culture, vote Trump,” you’re saying you disavow that. You do denounce that?
TRUMP: Well, you just heard me. I said it. How many times do you want me to say it?
BURNETT: A third would be good.
TRUMP: I said I disavow.
Notice how on the first two supposed disavowals, Trump only said he would denounce American National’s support, then quickly followed the statement with a “but...” about the evils of immigrants. Well, William Daniel Johnson, the organization’s founder, noticed it too. In an interview with the white-supremacist radio show The Political Cesspool, he called Trump’s response “wonderful.” Again, from Media Matters:
JOHNSON: Donald Trump’s response when he was asked to address it was just a wonderful response. He disavowed us, but he explained why there is so much anger in America that I couldn’t have asked for a better approach from him.
EDWARDS: I was going to ask you about that. So, you know, of course I saw that. In a perfect world he would say, “You know what? These guys are right. What are you going to do about it?” But understandably there is still a political reality. I think fundamentally, as I say on this show time and time again, most middle American, middle class whites agree with us fundamentally on the issues. But he’s operating in a different world than that — I think it was certainly better than to be expected. And I thought too it was quite good, as you did Bill, so this was something that you can live with in terms of a response from the Trump campaign and of course from there it’s over.
“Understandably there is still a political reality” is just the kind of thing people on the left say about Obama’s failure to close Guantanamo Bay, or his lukewarm efforts at increasing gun control. In other words, it’s the kind of thing you say when a politician acts against your interests in public, but you’re certain that deep in his heart, he agrees with you.