President Trump gave his endorsement on Wednesday to a controversial Republican running for U.S. Senate in Virginia, calling his competitor, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), “a total stiff.”
“Congratulations to Corey Stewart for his great victory for Senator from Virginia,” Trump tweeted, referring to the winner of Tuesday night’s GOP primary. “Now he runs against a total stiff, Tim Kaine, who is weak on crime and borders, and wants to raise your taxes through the roof. Don’t underestimate Corey, a major chance of winning!”
Congratulations to Corey Stewart for his great victory for Senator from Virginia. Now he runs against a total stiff, Tim Kaine, who is weak on crime and borders, and wants to raise your taxes through the roof. Don’t underestimate Corey, a major chance of winning!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018
Stewart, a Minnesota-born conservative and current chair of the Prince William County Board who has made a name for himself by defending the Confederate flag and other monuments to racism, beat out state House Rep. Nick Freitas and minister E.W. Jackson with 44.9 percent of the total vote to win Tuesday’s primary election. According to local news station WTOP, Stewart has promised to run a “vicious” campaign against Kaine in the run-up to the general election this fall.
“We’re going to kick the crap out of Tim Kaine, that’s the strategy,” he told supporters following his primary victory on Tuesday night.
Stewart has a long history of making racist, anti-Semitic, and other inappropriate comments, and has championed white supremacist Paul Nehlen, a Republican U.S. House candidate from Wisconsin.
In addition to calling him one of his “personal heroes,” Stewart has praised Nehlen, an avowed “pro-White Christian American candidate,” for his failed 2016 House bid against House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is stepping down after his term expires in November. Stewart also previously paid Nehlen $759 for a “fundraising commission” in May 2017, prior to Nehlen’s anti-Semitic Twitter rant but after he had already made scores of derogatory comments about Muslims, and “promoting fringe conspiracy theories,” CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Nathan McDermott note.
Stewart has since claimed that he no longer supports Nehlen, citing Nehlen’s anti-Semitic comments.
Stewart has also cavorted with far-right, sexist, and racist figures like Mike Cernovich, who argues “date rape does not exist,” has made scores of white supremacist statements, and once claimed that “diversity is code for white genocide.”
Stewart himself has come under fire for defending Confederate monuments and making incendiary comments about political opponents. Last August, he was criticized for making insensitive remarks following a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that left one counter-protester dead. In the wake of the rally, he claimed that Republicans leaping to express sadness or frustration about the event were “play[ing] right into the hands of the left wing.”
“All the weak Republicans, they couldn’t apologize fast enough,” he told the Washington Post. “They played right into the hands of the left wing. Those [Nazi] people have nothing to do with the Republican Party. There was no reason to apologize.”
As the Post noted, Stewart has ties to Jason Kessler, the man who had organized the event, having joined him at a demonstration earlier in the year to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue later at the center of the August rally.
Stewart has expressed pro-Confederate views on several other occasions, claiming last summer that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was “turn[ing] his back on his own family’s heritage” by demanding that statues and monuments of Confederate figures be removed — comments he later walked back — and suggesting the Confederate flag holds no racist connotations (it does).
Stewart is hardly the first racist candidate to receive Trump’s support. In December, the president publicly endorsed Alabama candidate Roy Moore for U.S. Senate, despite a flurry of allegations by women accusing Moore of sexual assault or predation. Moore, a former Alabama chief justice, has previously opposed legislation meant to remove segregation from the state constitution. He has also criticized the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which barred racial discrimination in voting, and claimed that all constitutional amendments past the 10th Amendment — including the 13th, which abolished slavery — have tried to “wreck the form of government that our forefathers intended.”