Over the course of his campaign for president, Donald Trump has sent veiled signals of support to white supremacist groups, echoing and promoting their messages while claiming ignorance of their fervent support for his candidacy.
In a speech in Reno, Nevada on Thursday, Hillary Clinton called Trump out for this coy dance, and accused the GOP nominee of “taking hate groups mainstream.”
Both in her speech and in a video released on Thursday, Clinton walked through the extensive list of white nationalist and openly racist figures who support and work for Trump, who have specifically praised his calls for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and a ban on Muslim immigration. Clinton noted that between retweeting white supremacist accounts, sharing anti-Semitic images, and inviting xenophobic figures like Nigel Farage to share his stage, Trump has brought the politics of racial fear out of the shadows and into the mainstream.
“Of course there’s always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, steeped in racial resentment,” she said. “But it’s never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national megaphone. Until now.”
Trump refused to disavow the support of David Duke, a notorious former leader of the Ku Klux Klan. https://t.co/PD8bNwuS3c
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 25, 2016
After slamming Donald Trump’s recent outreach to black and Latino voters — in speeches delivered to overwhelmingly white audiences — as “insulting and ignorant,” Clinton emphasized that the policies Trump has embraced pose an even greater threat than his offensive rhetoric.
While he has wavered this week on the prospect of rounding up and deporting 12 million undocumented people, Trump has not changed his position, Clinton noted, on denying birthright citizenship to the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants. “ He’d abolish the bedrock constitutional principle that says if you’re born in the United States, you’re an American citizen,” she said.
Clinton also highlighted Trump’s proposed “complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration, which has since evolved into an “ideological test” Muslim immigrants would have to take to enter the United States. Clinton laid out a scenario to demonstrate how unworkable such a plan would be.
How would it actually work? People landing in U.S. airports would line up to get their passports stamped, just like they do now. But in Trump’s America, when they step up to the counter, the immigration officer would ask every single person, “What is your religion?”
And then what? What if someone says, “I’m a Christian,” but the agent doesn’t believe them. Do they have to prove it? How would they do that?”
In a possible overture to moderate Republicans, Clinton ended her speech by emphasizing that the mainstreaming of white supremacy is not the fault of the entire GOP, many of whom have stood up to the racism in their voter base. But she warned that unless Republicans stand up to Trump and repudiate him, they will be complicit.
This is a moment of reckoning for every Republican dismayed that the Party of Lincoln has become the Party of Trump. It’s a moment of reckoning for all of us who love our country and believe that America is better than this.
Twenty years ago, when Bob Dole accepted the Republican nomination, he pointed to the exits and told any racists in the Party to get out.
The week after 9/11, George W. Bush went to a mosque and declared for everyone to hear that Muslims “love America just as much as I do.”
In 2008, John McCain told his own supporters they were wrong about the man he was trying to defeat. Senator McCain made sure they knew — Barack Obama is an American citizen and “a decent person.”
We need that kind of leadership again.
Every day, more Americans are standing up and saying “enough is enough” — including a lot of Republicans.
Trump’s candidacy has put Republicans in an awkward position, and few have been willing to break with him. Instead, party leaders have tried to condemn Trump’s policies while still backing his bid for the White House. House Speaker Paul Ryan slammed Trump’s Muslim ban proposal as unconstitutional and un-American, but continues to endorse him. Florida Senator Marco Rubio called Trump’s rhetoric about Latinos and immigrants “frightening, grotesque, and disturbing,” but continues to endorse him. Many Republican officials blasted Trump for attacking the Muslim parents of a fallen soldier, but almost none withdrew their support.