8 min read

Republicans escalate racist, anti-semitic rhetoric as election nears

A series of GOP lawmakers have espoused racist or anti-semitic rhetoric in the midterm campaign’s final weeks.
Republicans escalate racist, anti-semitic rhetoric as election nears
Good morning! It’s Tuesday, October 11, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 28 days away. Election Day 2024 is 756 days away.

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Some Republicans turn to racist, anti-semitic rhetoric as Election Day nears

With exactly four weeks to go until the midterm elections, several top Republicans are facing allegations of espousing racist and anti-semitic rhetoric:

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) seemed to equate descendants of slaves with criminals at a rally hosted by former President Donald Trump in Nevada on Saturday.

“They’re pro-crime,” Tuberville said of Democrats. “They want crime. They want crime because they want to take over what you got. They want to control what you have. They want reparations because they think the people that do the crime are owed that. Bullshit! They are not owed that.”

Reparations are a commonly floated policy, supported by some Democrats, to provide financial payment to Black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) had this to say at a Trump rally in Arizona on Sunday: “Joe Biden's five million illegal aliens are on the verge of replacing you: replacing your jobs and replacing your kids in school and coming from all over the world. They're also replacing your culture, and that's not great for America.”

Greene’s statement skates awfully close to echoing the “great replacement theory,” a racist and anti-semitic conspiracy theory that suggests that non-white people are being brought into the U.S. to “replace” white voters and advance a liberal agenda. Proponents of the theory often claim that Jews are coordinating the “replacement.”

Versions of the theory have been invoked by several mass shooters, including the one who killed 11 Black people at a Buffalo grocery store in May and the one who attacked a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018.

Last week, a group of House Democrats filed a censure resolution against Greene for tweeting “Joe Biden is Hitler” and sharing a doctored video showing Biden with a Hitler mustache.

Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville during a recent meeting. (Twitter)

Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano is facing allegations of anti-semitism for attacking the Jewish day school that his Democratic rival, Josh Shapiro, attended and now sends his kids to.

As the New York Times reported yesterday, Mastriano has referred to it as a “privileged, exclusive, elite” school and suggested that his choice to send his kids there shows Shapiro’s “disdain for people like us.” Mastriano previously faced criticism for paying $5,000 to the social-media platform Gab, a far-right hub where the Pittsburgh shooter posted anti-semitic rhetoric.

Former President Trump himself, who is allied with Tuberville, Greene, and Mastriano, also received criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike last week when he launched a racist attack against his former Commerce Secretary, Elaine Chao.

In a post on Truth Social, Trump referred to Chao as “Coco Chow” and called her the “China loving wife” of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Chao, who was born in Taiwan and is married to McConnell, was one of the highest-ranking Asian-American officials in U.S. history.

➞ Finally, Kanye West. He’s not a politician, of course, but his recent rhetoric is still worth noting since he’s been defended by several Republicans. The famed rapper’s Instagram and Twitter accounts were restricted this weekend after he posted that he was “going death con 3 on Jewish people.”

West is also aligned with Trump, and the House Judiciary Committee tweeted last week: “Kanye. Elon. Trump.” That tweet was sent before West’s “death con 3” post, but hours after West echoed anti-semitic stereotypes in a Fox News interview. The tweet remains up, despite pressure to remove it.

Indiana attorney general Todd Rokita, a Republican, also defended West on Twitter for his “independent thinking” after the “death con 3” tweet, although he later said that his post didn’t have “anything to do” with those comments.

Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano at a campaign event. (Twitter)

Each of these remarks has received fierce pushback. "Senator Tuberville's comments are flat out racist, ignorant and utterly sickening," Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP, said in a statement. “His words promote a centuries-old lie about Black people that throughout history has resulted in the most dangerous policies and violent attacks on our community.”

And Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) called Trump’s comments on Chao an “absolutely despicable, racist attack,” while Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt accused Mastriano of associating with “unapologetic, unabashed anti-semites.”

But this is not the first time Trump and his allies have escalated racist rhetoric on the eve of a midterm election: as Election Day 2018 approached, Trump frequently evoked fears about a “caravan” of migrants coming into the U.S. CNN referred to a Trump ad on the topic as “the most racially charged national political ad in 30 years”; several networks pulled the spot from their airwaves.

I’m also currently reading New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s new book, “Confidence Man,” which is littered with examples of Trump making racist and anti-semitic comments through the years.

Still, neither party is completely without racist controversies. Los Angeles City Council president Nury Martinez, a Democrat, resigned on Monday after a leaked recording surfaced of her comparing a colleague’s Black son to a monkey and dismissing another LA politicians as being “with the Blacks.”

A labor leader who was in the conversation while Martinez made the comments has also resigned; two other councilmembers who were there are also facing pressure to step down. Although Martinez has stepped down as city council president, it is unclear whether she is resigning from her seat on the council.

While comments by the GOP officials named above were largely met with silence within their party, the Los Angeles Democratic Party has called for the three councilmembers to resign, as have national leaders including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).

What else you should know

➞ Ukraine: “Russia unleashed a barrage of deadly attacks on cities across Ukraine on Monday, hitting the heart of the country's capital, Kyiv, as part of a wave of strikes against civilians and infrastructure not seen since the earliest days of the war.” NBC News

The missile strikes, which come in response to the bombing of a key bridge connecting Russia and Crimea, have continued today. The widespread attacks mark a major escalation of the war.

Election news to know:

  • Former President Barack Obama is declining most requests from Democratic candidates seeking his support, attempting to pare back his political involvement and focus on his post-presidential foundation. Former First Lady Michelle Obama, an even more sought-after surrogate, does not plan to campaign at all.
  • Both parties are being forced to make tough decisions about where to send their resources, as Republicans slash their ad buys in the New Hampshire Senate race and Democrats pull money away from several key House races.
  • An election denier running to be Nevada’s secretary of state is consistently leading in the polls.
  • State legislative chambers in Michigan, Arizona, Minnesota, Maine, Colorado, and Nevada are being contested as Democrats and Republicans battle over the increasingly influential state bodies.
Former President Obama at the White House earlier this year. (White House)

Today at a glance

All times Eastern. Click on an event’s time to watch or listen to it.

AT THE WHITE HOUSE: President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing (7 am), attend a virtual meeting with leaders of the Group of Seven to discuss Ukraine (8 am), deliver remarks at the Summit on Fire Prevention and Control (2:30 pm), participate in a virtual fundraiser for Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (6:45 pm), and tape an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper (airs at 9 pm).

  • 🇺🇦  Note #1: The Group of Seven, or G7, is a bloc of the world’s largest industrialized democracies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address today’s emergency meeting, which is being held in response to Russia’s recent missile strikes.
  • 💰 Note #2: It is very rare for the president to raise money for an individual House member, especially one in a completely safe seat. But Blunt Rochester, who hails from Biden’s home state, was one of his earliest supporters in 2020 and a co-chair of his presidential bid from Day 1. Today’s fundraiser is a reward for that support.
  • 📺 Note #3: Biden has given vanishingly few interviews as president, and this is his first sit-down with CNN since taking office (not counting three town halls he’s held with the network). Tonight’s interview comes on Tapper’s first night hosting the primetime 9 pm hour.

Vice President Kamala Harris will ceremonially swear in Travis LeBlanc, who was an adviser to her when she served as California attorney general, as a member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (3 pm).

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold the daily press briefing (1:15 pm).

President Biden with Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester. (White House)

ON THE HILL: The Senate will convene (11 am) after a week of recess to begin debate on the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual defense policy bill. The chamber is not scheduled to hold any votes; senators will not meet again in a full session for another month, until after Election Day.

The House will convene for a pro forma session (10 am). The session is a mere formality and will last only a few minutes; no business will be conducted.

IN THE COURTS: The Supreme Court will release orders (9:30 am) and then hold oral arguments in Reed v. Goertz (10 am) and National Pork Producers vs. Ross (11 am).

  • 🧬 The first case is a suit by Texas death-row inmate Rodney Reed, who is trying to have DNA testing conducted that he claims will prove his innocence in a 1996 murder. The case is a procedural dispute — about whether he was too late to file a federal civil rights claim to obtain the DNA testing — but it will carry large consequences for the future of Reed’s case and other inmates seeking DNA testing. Read more
  • 🐷 The second case is a challenge by a group of pork producers to a California ballot measure, approved by 63% of voters in 2018, that bars the sale of pork coming from mother pigs who were given less than 24 square feet of living space. The pork producers say the rules are a violation of the Constitution’s “Dormant Commerce Clause” because it will primarily affect commerce outside of California. Read more

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— Gabe