The Slatest

How Will Hillary Clinton Tie Donald Trump to White Nationalists? Like This.

Hillary Clinton is set to give a speech later Thursday on the so-called alt right, the white nationalist political movement that sees Donald Trump as something of a hero. But before Clinton takes the stage in Nevada, her campaign offered up a peek at how she will tie her Republican rival to a group that one liberal watchdog has memorably branded “hipster Nazis.”


The 70-odd-second video opens with a shot of a white-robed man—identified as an Imperial Wizard of the Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan—explaining that, “The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes, we believe in.” That’s a theme the video returns to again and again, as we hear former KKK grand wizard David Duke declare that, for whites, voting against Trump “is really treason to your heritage,” and listen to the editor of white-supremacist magazine American Renaissance explain that Trump’s closed-borders worldview is “very appealing to a lot of ordinary white people.” Eventually, the ad moves on to Trump campaign chief executive Steve Bannon, who in recent years has turned Breitbart News into the de facto home page for much of the alt right. “If Trump wins,” the closing on-screen graphic reads, “they could be running the country.”

Much of the ground the ad covers is well-trodden by now—particularly Duke’s endorsement of Trump and Trump’s conveniently slow denunciation of it (which the ad noticeably omits)—but seeing it all in one place makes for a rather powerful statement.

For its part, the Trump campaign quickly condemned the ad shortly after it went live. “Hillary Clinton and her campaign went to a disgusting new low today as they released a video tying the Trump Campaign with horrific racial images,” Mark Burns, a black pastor and Trump supporter, said in a statement released by the campaign.

Clinton’s current focus on Trump’s alt-right support comes as he tries to convince voters—specifically, college-educated white voters—that he isn’t the racist he’s made out to be and that it’s actually his rival who is the real racist. (“Hillary Clinton is a bigot who sees people of color only as votes,” Trump declared Wednesday, standing onstage in Mississippi before an overwhelming white audience.) In that sense, Clinton’s social-media attack is remarkable for two reasons: 1) that Clinton is swinging back so hard, and 2) that landing the punch appears to be so easy.

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 campaign.