The founder of a white nationalist super PAC that launched a robocall campaign for Donald Trump in Iowa is undeterred by his favored candidate’s second-place finish, and plans to move forward with another robocall campaign to get out the vote for Trump in New Hampshire.
William Johnson, chairman of the white nationalist American Freedom Party and founder of the American National Super PAC, told TPM in a Tuesday phone interview that he believes Trump is “well-placed to move forward in the other primaries.”
Johnson said Iowa caucus winner Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) simply “had a longer-term ground game in a state that is amenable to ground games. And Trump didn’t have that involvement in the state.”
Johnson’s PAC made national headlines in January after it rolled out a robocall campaign in the Hawkeye State that lavished praise on Trump’s anti-immigrant policy proposals. The call featured endorsements from a Filipino-American minister, Rev. Donald Tan, and Jared Taylor, the founder of the white supremacist American Renaissance magazine.
“We don’t need Muslims,” Taylor said on the robocall. “We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump.”
When asked about the campaign in late January, Trump, who is not affiliated with the American National Super PAC, told CNN he “would disavow” the robocalls. But he added that he wasn’t surprised by their content.
“Nothing in this country shocks me. I would disavow it, but nothing in this country shocks me,” he said.
Trump explained the calls by repeating his claims that undocumented immigrants commit crimes against U.S. citizens.
“People are angry, they’re angry at what’s going on,” he continued. “They’re angry at the border. They’re angry at the crime. They’re angry at people coming in and shooting Kate [Steinle] in the back in California, in San Francisco. They’re angry when Jamiel Shaw was 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.”
In a Tuesday phone interview with TPM, Taylor noted that Trump’s explanation dovetailed nicely with the white nationalist views espoused by the super PAC.
“He didn’t put it in racial terms when he was asked to disavow the calls,” Taylor said. “He said people are furious about some of the immigrants who come in illegally and commit all sorts of problems. He is expressing sympathy not with the consciousness of race and the wish of whites to remain the majority; what he’s expressing solidarity with is the idea that we shouldn’t be letting in immigrants who are going to kill us and commit crimes. But in many respects it boils down to the same thing as a practical matter.”
Numerous studies, including one released last summer by the non-partisan American Immigration Council, have found that undocumented immigrants are actually less likely to commit serious crimes than U.S.-born citizens.
Taylor, who said he sees race as “the most difficult social fault line to try to paper over,” accused liberals of embracing the rhetoric of diversity while segregating themselves in practice. He pointed to the Clintons as a prime example, saying Chappaqua, New York, where Bill and Hillary Clinton own a home, is “about as white a place as you can find outside of Iceland.”
“Look at the people who shout the most about the benefits of diversity—they tend to be elites whose lives are practically untouched by diversity,” he argued. “They all say, ‘Oh diversity is a great strength, it’s a wonderful thing. But we will forgo it so a few working class slobs can live next to people who play Ranchero music ‘til 3 in the morning and who get to send their children to schools where they spend more time trying to teach English to foreign language speakers than teaching arithmetic.’”
Taylor said the people who actually experience—or, in his words, “suffer from”— diversity “are behind the kind of support that Trump, and to some extent Cruz, are getting.”
Neither Johnson nor Taylor said they view Cruz as a viable alternative to Trump, despite his win in Iowa and his similarly strong rhetoric about undocumented immigrants and refugees from Muslim countries.
“I don’t support Cruz for a variety of reasons,” Johnson said. “Cruz is a conservative and I’m a populist and a nationalist…Cruz is just not the man for the job so I would not support him at all.”
As for Taylor, he said he admires Trump’s “less politically correct instincts” and trusts him to not compromise on his positions if elected.
“I can imagine Donald Trump saying something like, ‘What’s wrong with white people preferring to remain the majority in the United States?'” Taylor said. “I can’t imagine Ted Cruz saying something like this.”
In Taylor’s mind, Cruz has simply modeled his increasingly hardline stance on immigration off Trump’s.
“I prefer the original rather than the imitation,” he said.