White Supremacists Neglect Their Own Presidential Candidate To Back Donald Trump

"I realized that I like what he's saying," the American Freedom Party chairman said.

03/05/2016 12:35 am ET

WASHINGTON -- Robert Whitaker, a lifelong segregationist who says racial diversity will lead to “white genocide,” is frustrated. He's worked hard to promote his candidacy for president on the white nationalist American Freedom Party ticket. He wrote robocall scripts, sold bumper stickers, and vainly tried to get “White Self-Hatred Is SICK!!!” posted on a billboard in Nevada.

But the leaders of Whitaker's party have been neglecting his campaign so they can back a rival candidate: Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

Whitaker said he's not mad that his allies are backing Trump -- he offered in December to quit the race if Trump "sticks to his guns." He's just upset that they're doing it without him.

American Freedom Party

The American Freedom Party, or AFP, is one of more than 40 minor political parties in the U.S. Many of them nominate a candidate for president every four years. In 2012, the AFP nominee appeared on the ballot in three states, and received a total of 2,716 votes.

The chairman of AFP is Los Angeles-based attorney William Johnson, a soft-spoken corporate lawyer and vehement white nationalist. Last fall, Johnson launched The Daily Trump, a website that blends news about Trump's campaign with thinly veiled white supremacist messages.

White nationalists have a history of using dog-whistle messaging to try to influence mainstream politics. When former Alabama Gov. George Wallace ran for president in 1968, he talked up the importance of "states' rights." But his supporters knew those "rights" meant Jim Crow segregation.

More recently, Trump has proposed a ban on Muslims entering the United States. For white nationalists, Trump's blend of populism and xenophobia has given the movement a rare opportunity to see its dominant themes reflected on the national stage.

Johnson's activities are not affiliated with Trump in any way, and Trump said last month that he would return a $250 donation that Johnson made to his campaign. 

The Daily Trump

Around the time he launched the website, Johnson created the wholesome-sounding American National Super PAC to support Trump, funded exclusively by Johnson. He brought in a Yale-educated white nationalist with a patrician voice, Jared Taylor, to help write and record pro-Trump robocalls.

Taylor is the editor of American Renaissance, a pseudo-intellectual journal that imagines a war against "white America." His diction is formal and self-assured (think William F. Buckley), and he uses sciency-sounding words to make white nationalist arguments.

Within the insular world of organized white supremacist groups, Taylor is admired for how respectable he looks and sounds. He "wears coat and tie very well," Whitaker said ruefully. “They suddenly decided the smart boys like them would take over," he later added. 

In an email to HuffPost from his Yale account, Taylor asked to be referred to as a "white advocate," and not a white supremacist.

“A white supremacist is defined as someone who thinks that whites are the superior race," Taylor said. "I do not believe that at all. East Asians are objectively superior to whites.”  

American Renaissance

The robocalls that Taylor voiced made national news. But asked about Whitaker's AFP presidential campaign, Taylor said he had no opinion. "​I don't know about Mr. Whitaker's campaign."

Reached at his Los Angeles law firm, Johnson, who once proposed a constitutional amendment to revoke citizenship of non-white Americans, said he never planned to back a candidate from outside the American Freedom Party. 

“When Donald Trump first announced he would run for president, my view of Trump was 'he's a scoundrel.' But then he started talking, and I realized that I liked what he was saying. I decided to tailor my approach to promote Donald Trump."

Early this year, Johnson and Taylor recorded a pro-Trump robocall that was sent to voters in Iowa.  "We don't need Muslim [immigrants], Taylor said on the robocall, "we need smart, well-educated white people." 

After Iowa, Johnson kept at it, paying for calls in New Hampshire, Vermont, Minnesota and North Dakota. A round of calls went out this week to Idaho, which holds a GOP primary on March 8, and to Utah, where voters caucus on March 22.

"We are promoting Donald Trump and populism and white nationalism," Johnson said of the robocall campaign. But he still supports Whitaker, he said, and if given a choice between Trump and Whitaker, he'd pick Whitaker. 

Almost as soon as the robocalls were launched, Trump denounced them -- an outcome that Whitaker sees as a failure.

The calls weren't moderate enough for Whitaker. "They went too far," he said. "They didn’t use their words right. They could have talked free speech. They could have done some of the things they needed to do, which was not to give out probes that people like Huffington could use to label them racist."

Like Whitaker, Johnson said getting people to embrace pro-white views is just a matter of finesse. He worries that white nationalists "have such a bad reputation" that mainstream political candidates feel pressured to denounce them. But he has a plan to change that, and Trump plays a central role.

American Freedom Party

For all the media coverage they've received, the white nationalist robocalls are surprisingly homespun. Johnson puts his cellphone number at the end of the recording, "so after the robocall goes out, I'll sit down and I'll get hundreds of calls over several hours.  

"A good 50 percent of them are saying things like, 'I don't recognize this number, who is this?'" Johnson said. "Of the rest of them, 70 percent were negative and 30 percent were positive.”

He added that “after all this time, I've become inured to the negative calls."  

Johnson pays for the calls himself. He plans to spend at least $5,000 on his robocalling campaign, or "as much as my wife will let me."

AFP isn’t the only white supremacist group suiting up for Trump. On Saturday, another pseudo-intellectual white nationalist group, the National Policy Institute, will hold its annual Washington dinner at the Ronald Reagan building. This year's subject: Donald Trump.

Whitaker, meanwhile, is continuing his campaign, but more to keep Trump "honest,” he said, than to actually win the presidency. He doesn't trust that Trump will stick to some of the most nativist parts of his platform.

But certain words and phrases that are familiar code to white nationalists, like "reverse racism" and "European-Americans," could take on new significance if uttered by a mainstream presidential candidate. One phrase that Whitaker is particularly keen on is "white genocide." 

"If and when Trump endorses the deadly heresy of White Genocide in so many words, I will be the happiest man who was ever mistaken,” he wrote on his blog.

In January, Trump shared a tweet with his 6.7 million followers from a Twitter user who claimed to be tweeting from "Jewmerica."

That Twitter user's name?

WhiteGenocideTM.

Editor's note: Donald Trump is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.

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