President Trump’s declaration at Monday’s rally in Houston for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that he is a “nationalist” set off a media firestorm.
It’s a “broad term with many definitions, but most politicians in this country avoid using it because it’s a word loaded with the baggage of bigotry,” said Jake Tapper on CNN.
“The president’s embrace of the term comes not only with the baggage of the word, but the baggage of the president,” Tapper said. “For instance, his current campaign attacks on the migrant caravan and made up accusations that – quote – unknown Middle Easterners are in that caravan.
“Whether it’s claiming that a judge born in Indiana can’t do his job fairly because of his Mexican heritage or the president’s frequent refusal to call out white supremacists, it’s going to be difficult for lots of Americans to see this term ‘nationalist’ through the president’s brand-new definition of it.”
HuffPost also reported on the comments in an article headlined, “Why Donald Trump Declaring Himself a ‘Nationalist’ is So Loaded” and subheaded: “The president, of all people, knows the dark connotations of the word” – by Lydia O’Connor.
Her first point is that overhyped media coverage of supposed links between Trump and racists should prevent Trump from using such a word.
“It’s clear he knows the word is loaded,” O’Connor wrote. “Merriam-Webster defines it as a belief system ‘placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations.’ But it’s been prominently used by white supremacists in recent years to emphasize that some countries or regions should be defined by a white racial identity – a trend Trump is well aware of given the rise of news about the ideology during his presidency.”
She then unfurled the unverified quote from someone who claimed to have attended a meeting last January in which Trump asked, “Why are we having all these people from s—thole countries come here? We should have more people from places like Norway.”
Trump took more than 48 hours to “denounce the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia,” she wrote. On the day of the rally, Trump condemned “the egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” but said that was not enough because it did not “specifically mention the white supremacists who organized the rally and the one who ran over a woman with his car.”
Trump “refused to immediately condemn the white supremacists who advocated for him,” she added.
O’Connor referred to an interview with Tapper in which he tried to get Trump to “condemn Duke and say he didn’t want a vote from him or any other white supremacists.”
There is no record of Tapper asking Hillary Clinton or any other Democrat candidate to renounce any supporter, but such questions were standard for Trump.
“When asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if he would condemn [former KKK leader David] Duke and say he didn’t want a vote from him or any other white supremacists, Trump claimed he didn’t know anything about white supremacists or about Duke himself. When Tapper pressed him twice more, Trump said he couldn’t condemn a group he hadn’t yet researched.”
Trump later disavowed Duke and said he hadn’t done so during the CNN interview because of a “lousy earpiece.”
“Video of the exchange, however, shows Trump responding quickly to Tapper’s questions with no apparent difficulty in hearing.”
But the video is less clear. There are pregnant pauses before each of his answers, and he seems unsure of exactly what Tapper is saying.