Trump gets thumbs-up from neo-Nazis, white nationalists

In the wild race to become the Republican presidential nominee for 2016, Donald Trump's anti-immigration stance has won him many admirers - including white nationalists and neo-Nazis.

Anti-immigration statements going over well with hate groups

How Donald Trump Appeals to Angry Republicans

8 years ago
Duration 13:10
Donald Trump was supposed to be a blip, but be remains a hot ticket in U.S. presidential politics as he dominates the campaign and the conversation.

Here's what the lineup at a Donald Trump rally looks like: People in Stars and Stripes costumes, scores more gripping copies of Trump's book The Art of the Deal and some cradling 12-inch battery-powered talking Trump dolls that say, "I have no choice but to tell you you're fired" when you push the button in the back.

At a recent event at a Richmond, Va. speedway, people are excited to line up for Trump in the same way some people are excited to line up for a new iPhone.

"He says a lot of things that people don't want to say," says Scott Knuth, who carries a large "Secure Our Border" sign with a picture of a closed padlock on it.

"I like the idea of the wall [between the U.S. and Mexico]," says Richard Snowden, who drove four hours to be here this evening. "I love it that he's got the establishment in a tizzy!"
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump points into the crowd as he heads off stage after speaking at town hall meeting at the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, N.H., Monday, Oct. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter) (The Associated Press)

Barely two minutes into his speech about how to "Make America Great Again!" Trump winds the crowd up with his spiel about illegal immigration.

"We're going to build the wall, OK? Believe me, we're going to build the wall!"

Trump has not only pledged to erect a barrier across the southern border of the U.S. to keep out illegal immigrants, he's promised to make Mexico pay for it.

The roar of 7,000 voices bounces off the walls of the cavernous hangar-like hall: "YEAHHHHHHH!!"

It's so loud that you can barely hear the protest that breaks out among a small group of Hispanics and African Americans reacting to Trump's line about the wall. They call him racist. A young black woman, fists raised, screams, "Black power! Black power! Black power!"

A few steps away, a smirking young blue-eyed blond woman screams back: "White power! White power! Always has been, always will be!"

The scene is absurd and grotesque, but it should not be surprising. Trump's immigration policy seems designed to appeal to white Americans who fear becoming a minority in their own country.

That has won him support among working-class whites, but it has also brought endorsements from neo-Nazi hate groups and white nationalists.

Leery about immigration

A recent speech by Donald Trump at the Richmond International Raceway in Virginia drew typically enthusiastic crowds. (Getty Images)
Although Ben Carson has been polling better of late, for most of the 2016 Republican primary race, Trump has been the frontrunner. 

That's partly because he's not afraid or embarrassed to say what he thinks, and authenticity is gold this election season.

Millions of Americans have been waiting to hear a voice like Trump's, including Ed Hunter, a construction worker in Maryland.

Every Friday, on an overpass spanning the I-95 out of Baltimore, Hunter and his friends hang three banners that read: "Millions Unemployed," "Stop Immigration" and "Trump."

Commuters below honk their horns or flash their lights; some vote with their middle finger as they drive by.

Hunter says the ones flipping him off are probably government workers leaving the office early on a Friday.

"It's the working people, the guys in the work trucks, that are honking and cheering, 'cause they're the ones who've been destroyed by [immigration]," he says. "Nobody asked any Americans, nobody asked them if they wanted it."

Hunter voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, but says he wouldn't do that again, because he now sees Republicans for what they really are: puppets of big money donors who want to ensure government doesn't disturb their comfort and privilege.

Trump seen as truth-teller

Hunter believes Trump is the first Republican candidate ever to be straight about immigration. He isn't talking about "documenting the undocumented" or "finding them a path to citizenship" — he's talking about rounding them up and sending them back to where they come from.

Trump's most incendiary words about Mexicans crossing the border —"They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists" — were condemned in polite America.

Maryland resident Ed Hunter and his friends regularly unfurl banners on the I-95 highway outside Baltimore to express their support for Donald Trump and his policy proposals. (Jason Burles/CBC )

Macy's announced it would stop carrying his clothing line; NBC dropped him as the host of The Apprentice; celebrities said they'd skip his Miss USA and Miss Universe beauty pageants.

But his polling numbers quadrupled in two weeks.

To millions of Americans, Trump is a truth-teller who is lifting the veil of political correctness that has hidden what's happening in their country. 

"You look at what it is now compared to what it was 30 years ago — the level of security needed, the constant surveillance, the constant police presence, OK? That's not the America we grew up in," says Hunter.

"What changed? Who did they bring in that makes everybody so afraid?"

He shrugs off the suggestion that's racist, saying it's only rational for anyone, white or otherwise, to want to protect what they have. "I think it's basically just self-preservation of anybody, anywhere, OK?"

'I'll be voting for him'

But there are those who believe that a vote for Trump is a vote for a whiter America.

He may not like it or even know about it, but Trump has been endorsed by the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer precisely because of his immigration policy. Last week, Andrew Anglin, who publishes Daily Stormer, wrote, "I've never voted, even once in my life, and I'll be voting for him."

Cincinnati-based Matt Heimbach, who formed the fledgling white separatist group Traditionalist Worker Party to bring back segregation in America, says Trump is a useful tool: a megaphone and a stamp of legitimacy for white nationalism.

Trump's anti-immigrant statements have won him favour with some white supremacist groups in the U.S. (Johnny Milano/Reuters)

"It's moving the discussion to the right, towards nationalism, and that's what I want," says the 24-year-old Heimbach, who is friendly with the Ku Klux Klan and other white separatists and wears a black shirt to advertise his fascist sympathies.

Trump has "made immigration a topic here in America. He's making the very question of what's an American a question."

Whether Trump actually becomes president isn't important to Heimbach.

"What I do want is him to keep saying these things, because it offers us a kind of political cover to be able to say, 'Well, Donald Trump says it, we're not that radical.'"

Trump is not responsible for who decides to support him, and his campaign has rejected any association with extremists.

"Mr. Trump doesn't want any loser endorsing him," says his Iowa spokesperson, Tana Goertz, a former runner-up on The Apprentice.

But it should be disturbing to Republicans that a candidate whose views on immigration have won admiration and endorsements from white nationalists and neo-Nazis could be their party's 2016 presidential candidate.​


Keith Boag

American Politics Contributor

Keith Boag writes about American politics and issues that shape the American experience. Keith was based for several years in Los Angeles and now, in retirement after a long career with CBC News, continues to live in Washington, D.C. Earlier, Keith reported from Ottawa, where he served as chief political correspondent for CBC News.