Unhappy with Donald Trump’s lagging poll numbers in Wisconsin, which holds its primary on Tuesday, a self-proclaimed white nationalist blitzed the Badger State over the weekend with robocalls telling voters the real estate mogul would “help preserve Western civilization.”
Los Angeles-based lawyer William Johnson, founder of the American National Super PAC, told MSNBC he spent just under $6,000 on the latest round of robocalls, which he said hit every residential landline in Wisconsin. The calls went out Saturday and Sunday and will not run during Tuesday’s primary.
Johnson, who also serves as chairman of the American Freedom Party – a group described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “a political party initially established by racist Southern California skinheads that aims to deport immigrants and return the United States to white rule” – had previously paid for similar pro-Trump robocalls in Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, Minnesota and Utah. But Johnson described the Wisconsin batch as “mellower.” Though they made no mention of Trump’s more controversial positions on issues like immigration and abortion, the Wisconsin calls did make clear that they were paid for by a “white nationalist.”
“I am voting for Donald Trump because he will not only be presidential, he will put America first,” says a woman’s voice in the robocall. “Furthermore, he will respect all women and will help preserve Western civilization. If you vote Donald Trump, he will be a fine president. He will select the very best to be in his cabinet, and the entire world will benefit from his leadership.”
The last line states: “This call is not authorized by Donald Trump.”
Hope Hicks, spokesperson for the Trump campaign, did not immediately respond to MSNBC’s request for comment.
Trump has found himself in hot water in the past over his failure to immediately and forcefully distance himself from people who want to make the United States a white nation. Most infamously, when asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper in February about the support he received from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, Trump became defensive and responded, “Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK?” He later “disavowed” the former KKK grand wizard on multiple occasions.
Already, the Wisconsin robocalls have earned scorn from some of Trump’s opponents. Speaking to reporters Monday, Ted Cruz surrogate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called Johnson’s campaign “outrageous” and said he hoped “the people of this state are smart enough to see through that.” Trump trails Cruz among Wisconsin voters, according to last week’s highly respected Marquette University Law School poll.
But despite attacks from the governor, Johnson said he received a “favorable” response to the Wisconsin robocalls. He added that with each round he pays for, he hopes it will be the last. “I don’t plan on doing any more,” he said of future robocalls. “But who knows?”