A white supremacist group said it has placed thousands of automated telephone calls in Iowa urging voters to back billionaire Donald Trump’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination because “we don’t need Muslims.”
The telephone campaign is led by the American Freedom Party, which on its Web site says it “shares the customs and heritage of the European American people.”
The telephone calls feature the spokesman of a white supremacist group that Dylann Roof, who is accused of gunning down nine people at a black church in South Carolina in June, had reportedly cited as an inspiration.
“We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture,” Jared Taylor, editor of the supremacist magazine American Renaissance, says on the call.
Taylor is also spokesman of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a supremacist group with historic links to the White Citizens Council, a segregationist organization set up in Mississippi in 1954.
The group also attempted to buy radio time in Iowa, but was rebuffed.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The group has placed about 200,000 “robocalls” in Iowa and may also target New Hampshire, organizers said.
The American Freedom Party published an audio recording of the telephone call on its Web site.
Iowa kicks off the voting in the nominating contests leading up to the November presidential election with its caucuses on Feb. 1. New Hampshire holds the country’s first primary elections on Feb. 9.
The calls inject another controversial wrinkle into a presidential campaign that has been more racially charged than any in recent memory. Trump has emerged as a surprise front-runner in the Republican nominating contest after calling Mexican immigrants “rapists” in his speech declaring his candidacy and saying the US should ban Muslims from entering the country, following the massacre in San Bernardino, California, last month by a young Muslim couple.
Republican rivals have condemned those remarks as inflammatory, but they have not dented Trump’s popularity among Republican voters, who are overwhelmingly white.
“I can’t say it surprises me,” said Dave Zbaracki, a former Republican, who was attending a campaign event for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton in Waterloo, Iowa.
He said many of his Republican friends were “mortified” by events in the presidential race.
The group bought airtime on a Des Moines Christian radio station to broadcast its message, but the station says it will not broadcast the show.
“They’re not on our air,” Praise 940 AM general manager Jeff Delvaux said.
Trump has not sought the backing of white supremacist groups, but several say his success has helped them win new supporters.
“Clearly our movement has been energized by Trump,” said Richard Spencer, director of the National Policy Institute, a far-right group dedicated to promoting the interests of white Americans.
The chairman of the American Freedom Party, William Johnson, who also appears on the telephone call, said he has spent about US$9,000 on the effort and plans to spend another US$10,000 of his own money. He said others have volunteered to pay for the effort as well.
The group, also planned to run pro-Trump radio programming from yesterday through Jan. 22, but was notified on Monday morning that the station would not accept its US$2,100 payment.
Other white supremacist leaders said that while many of their supporters supported Trump, they did not plan to formally campaign on his behalf.
Michael Hill, president of the League of the South, said his members were most excited about Trump’s potential to disrupt the US political system, which could make it easier for them to accomplish their goal of breaking southern states away from the rest of the US.
“I’m looking for American politics to become pure chaos,” Hill said.
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