Donald Trump’s flirtation with the alt-right was subtle but unmistakeable — and ultimately effective.
White nationalists initially mistrusted Trump, believing he was secretly Jewish or at least too cozy with Jewish interests and “non-whites” in his business dealings, reality shows and beauty pageants, reported Politico.
But he began to win their trust with “his steady, consistent push for an anti-immigration platform,” which is central to nationalist right-wingers, and through a series of winking communications that were widely covered in media at the time.
Trump signaled his agreement with the alt-right in November by retweeting made-up statistics claiming 81 percent of white homicide victims are killed by blacks and 97 percent of black homicide victims were killed by other blacks.
He continued the flirtation by twice retweeting posts from the @WhiteGenocideTM account, which reporters found had promoted Adolf Hitler and shared a post showing Trump putting Bernie Sanders into a gas chamber.
Trump consumated his relationship with the racist right by refusing to back away from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke’s endorsement — which a commenter on the white nationalist website Stormfront lauded as “the best political thing I have seen in my life.”
The Republican presidential nominee’s sons, particularly Donald Trump Jr., have also signaled their support to the racist alt-right on social media and by appearing on the air with white nationalist radio hosts.
It’s not clear whether Trump’s campaign intentionally cultivated their relationship with the organized racist right, but it’s clear that long-standing white nationalist groups — such as neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and Christian Identity — see Trump as an opportunity to gain mainstream influence.
Trump’s campaign spokesman, Jason Miller, denied that the GOP nominee had overtly courted the alt-right.
“We have rejected and rebuked any groups and individuals associated with a message of hate and will continue to do so,” Miller told Politico. “We have never intentionally engaged directly or indirectly with such groups and have no intention of ever doing so, and in fact, we’ve gone a step further and said that we don’t want votes from people who think this way.”
But many of those voters will enthusiastically cast ballots for Trump, who hired Steve Bannon, founder of the alt-right Breitbart website, as his campaign CEO.
“I believe this guy truly wants the best for this country,” wrote one commenter at Stormfront. “I can’t believe that someone would put forth all this energy, and face all this ridicule, just to be another puppet in the machine. I’m locked into the vote.”