The Trump Campaign's Long And Complicated History Of White Nationalist Support

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump recently faced criticism after declining to disavow an endorsement from former Ku Klux Klan (KKK) grand wizard David Duke in a CNN State of the Union interview. However, what has gotten less attention is the support and praise Trump's campaign has garnered from various white nationalist groups that have used his rhetoric for outreach and made robocalls on his behalf.

Trump Declined To Disavow Support From Former KKK Leader On CNN's State Of The Union

Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke Voiced Support For GOP Front-Runner On Radio Show. BuzzFeed News reported that on the February 24 edition of his radio program, white nationalist and former Ku Klux Klan (KKK) grand wizard David Duke urged his listeners to vote and volunteer for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, saying that “voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage.” He continued: “I'm not saying I endorse everything about Trump, in fact I haven't formally endorsed him. But I do support his candidacy, and I support voting for him as a strategic action.” [BuzzFeed News, 2/25/16]

CNN's Jake Tapper Asks Trump: “Will You Unequivocally Condemn David Duke?” On the February 28 edition of CNN's State of the Union, host Jake Tapper asked Trump about Duke's support for him and whether Trump would “unequivocally condemn” the former KKK leader and disavow support from Duke and other white supremacist groups, including the KKK. Trump responded to Tapper's question by saying, “I don't know anything about David Duke,” and “You wouldn't want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about”:

JAKE TAPPER (HOST): I want to ask you about the Anti-Defamation League, which this week called on you to publicly condemn unequivocally the racism of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, who recently said that voting against you at this point would be treason to your heritage. Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don't want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK? I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So, I don't know. I don't know, did he endorse me, or what's going on? Because, you know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists. And so you're asking me a question that I'm supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.

TAPPER: But I guess the question from the Anti-Defamation League is even if you don't know about their endorsement there are these groups and individuals endorsing you, would you just say unequivocally you condemn them and you don't want their support

TRUMP: Well I have to look at the group. I don't know what group you are talking about. You wouldn't want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about; I'd have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong, but --

TAPPER: The Ku Klux Klan?

TRUMP: -- you may have groups in there that are totally fine and it would be very unfair. So give me a list of the groups, and I'll let you know.

TAPPER: OK, I mean I'm just talking about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan here, but --

TRUMP: I don't know any -- honestly I don't know David Duke. I don't believe I've ever met him. I'm pretty sure I didn't meet him, and I just don't know anything about him. [CNN, State of the Union, 2/28/16]

Trump's Campaign Has Long History Of White Nationalist Support

Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke: Trump Is “Certainly The Best Of The Lot.” BuzzFeed News reported that in August 2015, Duke praised Trump as “the best of the lot” running for president because he “understands the real sentiment of America.” From BuzzFeed:

David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and self-described “racial realist,” says Donald Trump is the best Republican candidate for president because he “understands the real sentiment of America.” 


“Trump, he's really going all out. He's saying what no other Republicans have said, few conservatives say. And he's also gone to point where he says it's not just illegal immigration, it's legal immigration,” Duke said, adding Trump has also talked about companies are taking advantage of the H1B visa program. Duke added that he felt the big technology companies were headed by “Zios.”

Duke said The Donald, while untrustworthy, was “the best of the lot” running.

“So this is a great opportunity,” Duke said. “So although we can't trust him to do what he says, the other Republican candidates won't even say what he says. So he's certainly the best of the lot. And he's certainly somebody that we should get behind in terms, ya know, raising the image of this thing.” [BuzzFeed, 8/25/15]

White Nationalist Writer John Derbyshire: “Trump Is Doing The Lord's Work.” White nationalist writer John Derbyshire, who, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), was fired from National Review for his racist views, praised Trump during the August 15 edition of his radio show: “Trump is doing the Lord's work shaking up the GOP,” he said, adding that the reason he and other Trump supporters favor the candidate is “following the rules has gotten us ... nowhere”:  

Meanwhile, however things come out at last, Trump is doing the Lord's work shaking up the GOP side of the 2016 campaign. There were the professional pols in the August 6th debate, reading the focus-group-tested answers from their shirt cuffs; and there was Trump breaking the rules of genteel politics, rattling the GOP teacups and refusing the cucumber sandwiches.

The reason we Trump supporters like the guy so much is precisely that following the rules has gotten us -- us patriotic conservatives -- nowhere. Following the rules got us eight years of George W. Bush, who gave us open borders, missionary wars, and “When somebody hurts, Government has got to move.” Then it got us eight years of Barack Obama, who gave us open borders, amnesty for foreign scofflaws, radical-left Supreme Court justices, and eighteen trillion dollars of debt.

Maybe if we knock over a few teacups and throw the cucumber sandwiches around, we'll get some conservative policies at last. Hey, it's worth a try. [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 3/1/16,, 8/15/15]

Anti-Immigration Hate Website Calls Trump A Supporter. The SPLC describes as “an anti-immigration hate website” with a white nationalist ideology that “regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites.” In a December 2015 post, VDARE writer Patrick Cleburne highlighted Trump's plan to halt Muslims from entering the United States under the headline “Donald Trump Agrees With Halt Muslim Immigration!” adding, “Once again -- Donald Trump is indispensible.” The website then used Trump's proposal to raise funds, writing in a pitch, “Because of the improbable rise of Donald Trump ... our ideas are now firmly in the mainstream”:

Because of the improbable rise of Donald Trump, a billionaire who is not vulnerable to the machinations of the Donor Class, our ideas are now firmly in the mainstream. Indeed, they are practically the platform of the Republican frontrunner. And more importantly, candidates who have a mixed record on this issue, most notably Ted Cruz, are now running to play catch up.


Even as this is written, Donald Trump has come out for a moratorium on Muslim immigration, just days after our Editor-in-Chief Peter Brimelow advocated precisely the same thing. They may not admit it, but more people than ever are reading And finally, people are beginning to act. [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 3/1/16;, 12/7/15; 12/8/15]

Anti-Semitic Writer Kevin MacDonald: “This May Be The Last Chance For Whites To Elect A President Who Represents Their Interests.” Kevin MacDonald, who the SPLC has called “the neo-Nazi movement's favorite academic,” wrote in the Occidental Observer in December 2015 that “given the steadily falling White percentage of the electorate ... this may be the last chance for Whites to elect a president who represents their interests”:

Make no mistake about it, if Trump is nominated, there will be an unprecedented bombardment of propaganda against him that will make the 1964 anti-Goldwater campaign look tame by comparison. But, given the steadily falling White percentage of the electorate (definitely a design feature of the current policy), this may be the last chance for Whites to elect a president who represents their interests. I suspect that quite a bit of the Republican Jewish Coalition money will actively support Hillary, and others will sit on their hands. Not only are Trump's declarations on immigration and refugees anathema to them, he has not towed the neocon lines on Syria, the Iraq war, or Putin. His speech at the recent RJC forum (where he also deviated from Israel Lobby positions on Israel's supposed commitment to peace with the Palestinians and placing Israel's capital in Jerusalem) was basically a statement to the effect that “I don't need your money; I am way ahead in the polls, so get used to it.” To put it mildly, the RJC is not used to such chutzpah. The unprincipled Marco Rubio, who will do anything for their money, is much more acceptable.

Trump is calling into question the entire worldview that pervades our hostile elites. And that is unforgivable. [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 3/1/16; Occidental Observer, 12/8/15]

Trump Has Seemingly Symbiotic Relationship With White Nationalist Groups

Politico: White Supremacists Use Trump In Their “Outreach Efforts.” In a December 2015 article, Politico's Ben Schreckinger outlined how white nationalist groups were using Donald Trump's language to “invigorate and expand their movement.” While Schreckinger acknowledged that Trump does not “belong to or endorse white supremacist groups,” analysts say his rhetoric is likely to incite violence against American Muslims:  

The Ku Klux Klan is using Donald Trump as a talking point in its outreach efforts. Stormfront, the most prominent American white supremacist website, is upgrading its servers in part to cope with a Trump traffic spike. And former Louisiana Rep. David Duke reports that the businessman has given more Americans cover to speak out loud about white nationalism than at any time since his own political campaigns in the 1990s.

As hate group monitors at the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League warn that Trump's rhetoric is conducive to anti-Muslim violence, white nationalist leaders are capitalizing on his candidacy to invigorate and expand their movement.


According to experts at the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center who monitor hate groups and anti-Muslim sentiment, Trump's callon Monday to halt the entrance of Muslims to the United States is driving online chatter among white supremacists and is likely to inspire violence against Muslims. [Politico, 12/10/15]

VDARE.Com: Trump's Rhetoric Brought White Nationalist Group's Ideas “Firmly In The Mainstream.” In a December 2015 post, the anti-immigration website cited Trump's call for a ban on Muslim immigration and concluded, “Because of the improbable rise of Donald Trump ... our ideas are now firmly in the mainstream.” The post continued that “this isn't enough” before asking for a donation (emphasis original):

Political movements can labor in the wilderness for years, even decades, before achieving a breakthrough. Though immigration patriots have consistently defeated Amnesty time and again, and has played an indispensable part in that effort, the hard reality is that we have been on the strategic defensive for years. But today, that has all changed.

Because of the improbable rise of Donald Trump, a billionaire who is not vulnerable to the machinations of the Donor Class, our ideas are now firmly in the mainstream. Indeed, they are practically the platform of the Republican frontrunner. And more importantly, candidates who have a mixed record on this issue, most notably Ted Cruz, are now running to play catch up.



I hate to be blunt, but money talks. So many people ask what they can do. And the fact is, the most important thing you can do is put your money to a cause you believe in. We can build the kind of nation and the kind of world that we want to live in. But we can only do it with your help. [, 12/8/15]

White Nationalists Robocalled For Trump, Said His Reaction Was “Wonderful” And Validating. The American National Super PAC, led by white nationalist activist William Daniel Johnson, made robocalls for Trump in Iowa, asking voters to support the candidate because of his immigration views. During a January 16 interview on the “pro-white” radio show The Political Cesspool, Johnson and host James Edwards praised Trump's response to their robocalls as “wonderful” and “quite good,” adding that they “couldn't have asked for a better approach” from Trump:   

WILLIAM DANIEL JOHNSON: Donald Trump's response when he was asked to address it was just a wonderful response. He disavowed us, but he explained why there is so much anger in America that I couldn't have asked for a better approach from him.

JAMES EDWARDS*: I was going to ask you about that. So, you know, of course I saw that. In a perfect world he would say, “You know what? These guys are right. What are you going to do about it?” But understandably there is still a political reality. I think fundamentally, as I say on this show time and time again, most middle American, middle class whites agree with us fundamentally on the issues. But he's operating in a different world than that -- I think it was certainly better than to be expected. And I thought too it was quite good, as you did Bill, so this was something that you can live with in terms of a response from the Trump campaign and of course from there it's over. You know, the news cycle is over, if he's asked about it again he's already gone on record, he is the Teflon Don. He's the Teflon candidate. This wasn't of course made to hurt him, I don't know how much it hurt or helped him. Ultimately I don't think it did much of either -- it might have marginally helped him. It certainly didn't hurt him. And so his response is something that you greet with a level of respect, am I right?

JOHNSON: Oh yeah I do, I like it very much. And also the response that I got -- I put my own cell phone number out there. And I got, oh, a hundred calls regarding it. Most of the calls were hang-ups. They wanted to know if it was a real phone number. So they'd either hang up or say, “Oh I'm sorry, wrong number.” But there were a majority of calls who were opposed to it but there were a minority of calls who approved of it, and liked it. So that was encouraging also. And that is a new phenomenon. Before we would have gotten no one who would be willing to come out and say that so these little things incrementally help raise awareness of the issues and help change public opinion. [Media Matters, 1/19/16

White Nationalist Author Johnson Also Donated To Trump's Campaign. According to Trump's third quarter Federal Election Commission report, Johnson gave Donald J. Trump for President Inc. $250 in September. The address listed for Johnson's donation is the same as that of the American National Super PAC and the West Coast office of the white nationalist American Freedom Party, which Johnson also chairs. Following criticism, Trump said he would return the donation during a February 8 town hall event in New Hampshire. [Media Matters, 2/1/162/8/16]

*The speaker's name in the transcript has been fixed.