Asked in a brief interview with The New York Times if she thought Trump was a white supremacist, Warren responded without hesitation: “Yes.”
“He has given aid and comfort to white supremacists,” Warren said during a campaign swing in western Iowa. “He’s done the wink and a nod. He has talked about white supremacists as fine people. He’s done everything he can to stir up racial conflict and hatred in this country.”
Warren’s comments amounted to one of the starkest condemnations to date from a leading Democratic presidential candidate about Trump’s language toward minorities and immigrants. She spoke hours after former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas gave the same assessment of Trump. Asked by MSNBC if Trump was a white supremacist, O’Rourke replied, “He is.”
“He’s dehumanized or sought to dehumanize those who do not look like or pray like the majority here in this country,” O’Rourke said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, another leading candidate for the Democratic nomination, also believes Trump is a white supremacist. Sanders was asked on CNN on Sunday if he believed the president was “a white supremacist or a white nationalist,” and Sanders replied, “I do.” A senior campaign official confirmed Thursday that Sanders believed Trump was both.
Trump has a long history of using race for his own gain, and his time in the White House has been no exception.
After pushing the “birther” lie about President Barack Obama, Trump began his campaign for the presidency by disparaging Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals. As president, he sought to bar people from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States; said there were “very fine people on both sides” of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia; and used an obscenity to describe African nations.
He has warned of an “invasion” of migrants at the southern border. And last month, he said that four congresswomen of color should “go back” to the countries they came from; all four are U.S. citizens and only one of the women was born outside the United States.
Trump has faced condemnations from Democratic presidential candidates in the wake of the mass shooting Saturday in El Paso, Texas. The suspect in the attack is believed to have described it in a manifesto as “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas” — echoing Trump’s language.
In a speech in Iowa on Wednesday, former Vice President Joe Biden argued that Trump had “fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation.”
Biden has also called Trump “openly racist.” But when he was asked on CNN earlier this week if he believed Trump was a white nationalist, Biden stopped short of saying the president was one.
Another candidate, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, also cast blame on Trump for encouraging hatred. Booker made those remarks in a speech at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where a white supremacist gunman killed nine people in 2015.
Trump contends he is not racist and criticized Democrats in a tweet Wednesday for their remarks, saying their “new weapon is actually their old weapon, one which they never cease to use when they are down, or run out of facts, RACISM!”
Warren, for her part, said Trump was intent on dividing people.
“Donald Trump has a central message,” she said. “He says to the American people, if there’s anything wrong in your life, blame them — and ‘them’ means people who aren’t the same color as you, weren’t born where you were born, don’t worship the same way you do.”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.