In a major foreign policy speech on Monday, which offered few details and many inaccuracies, GOP nominee Donald Trump attacked his Democratic opponent’s stance on immigration and refugees by comparing her to the chancellor of Germany. “Hillary Clinton wants to be America’s Angela Merkel,” he said.
The line of attack “baffled” political analysts, who wondered why Trump would possibly think referencing a largely-unknown European leader would help him win votes in the United States. A Pew survey last year found that “Germany is not on the radar of many Americans,” with more than a third reporting “no opinion” of Merkel at all.
But there is at least one group of Americans well familiar with Merkel, her immigration policies, and her connections to Hillary Clinton: white supremacists.
To white nationalist communities that fervently support Trump, Merkel has been a popular villain. Sites like the Daily Stormer, the White Genocide Project, American Renaissance, and The White Resister have posted constantly about her since the Syrian refugee crisis began escalating earlier this year. They have accused her of making a “deliberate attempt to turn Germany from a majority White country into a minority White country.” They have called her a “crazy childless bitch,” “Anti-White Traitor,” and “patron saint of terrorists.” They have asked in articles about her, “Why would you allow a woman to run a country, unless you were doing it as a joke?”
In fact, Trump’s new line about Clinton wanting to become “America’s Merkel” can be found almost verbatim in these white supremacist forums. “If Hillary takes power she will be to America what Merkel is to Germany,” a member of Stormfront wrote in March. “Hillary Clinton is America’s Angela Merkel,” wrote a commenter on American Renaissance in April.
Heidi Beirich, who investigates and tracks white nationalist groups for Southern Poverty Law Center, told ThinkProgress that Trump “seems to be parroting the hate sites” and speaking to their concerns.
“There is no question that the people who call him their ‘glorious leader’ know exactly what he’s talking about,” she said. “That is the audience that is concerned about this issue. Merkel is hated by Trump’s white supremacist supporters, and she and Clinton are seen in the same light.”
“Donald Trump seems to be parroting the hate sites.”
Less than a year ago, Trump had nothing but effusive praise for Merkel, calling her “fantastic” and “probably the greatest leader in the world today.” Weeks later, after Merkel announced that her country would accept hundreds of thousands of refugees, Trump changed his mind, slamming her for “ruining Germany” and calling her a “catastrophic leader.” This week, he claimed that “crime has risen to levels that no one thought would they would ever see” thanks to Merkel’s refugee policy. But official data shows no increase in crime over the last year, and the number of crimes committed by migrants has declined by more than 18 percent between January and March of this year.
Donald Trump’s campaign did not respond to ThinkProgress’ questions about the origin of his comments on Clinton and Merkel.