Republican presidential contender Donald Trump may see all press as good press, but a new pro-Trump robocalling campaign with ties to a white supremacist group is putting that strategy to the test.
The call features a statement by Jared Taylor, an active spokesperson for the Council of Conservative Citizens, which was cited by Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof as inspiration for the mass murder he committed in June.
In the call, Taylor says: “I urge you to vote for Donald Trump because he is the one candidate who points out that we should accept immigrants who are good for America. We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump.” The call ends with a statement clarifying that it is not authorized by Trump.
The robocalling campaign targets voters in Iowa, where Trump is running a close race with fellow Republican primary candidate Ted Cruz. It began on Jan. 9 and is paid for by a super PAC started by William Johnson, the chairman of a nationalist political group called the American Freedom Party, which has around 5,000 registered members, according to Johnson.
So far, references to the calling campaign have been absent from Trump’s social media streams, where the candidate often acknowledges his supporters, big and small. He has neither acknowledged nor rebuffed the American Freedom Party’s endorsement.
“We don’t mind if it’s unrequited love,” Johnson, who said he has had no contact with Trump, told Quartz.
Trump previously received a statement of support from the Ku Klux Klan’s Grand Wizard David Duke, back in August. “I don’t need his endorsement; I certainly wouldn’t want his endorsement,” Trump said to Bloomberg News at the time.
Trump has proposed building a “great wall” on the US-Mexican border and banning all Muslim immigrants. However, he has also proclaimed himself to be “the least racist person on earth,” and made an effort to woo black voters. In November, he invited a group of black pastors to meet with him, and fired one of his campaign advisors in June for making racist Facebook posts as part of his official campaign last summer.