The Slatest

Rising Star Republican Candidate Denounces Critic Over Past Support for “Non-White Males”

Cawthorn, a young man with a firm jawline and blond hair, speaks against a backdrop of American flags while wearing a blue-gray suit jacket with a pink tie and an American flag pin.
North Carolina congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn speaks during the virtual Republican National Convention in August. Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Convention via Getty Images

With Donald Trump struggling in the polls and the end of Election Month less than two weeks away, some high-profile Republicans are already making tentative moves to suggest that they always found Trump distasteful and never really supported him. If the president does in fact lose to Joe Biden by a wide margin, you would expect similar gestures to be made by other GOP figures who hold office in swing states and purple districts, or who have ambitions to eventually run in a presidential general-election race. You know, “We need to build a more inclusive party,” “It’s time to return to traditional conservative values,” “I was taking a five-year nap and am only just hearing about all this now,” that sort of thing. There will be an effort—by some—to “rebrand” the GOP.

On the other hand, here’s the latest news about 25-year-old North Carolina House candidate Madison Cawthorn, whom the Republican National Committee likes so much that it gave him a speaking slot at the virtual Republican convention in August:

A new attack website put up by the Madison Cawthorn campaign includes an explicitly racist broadside against his opponent, Moe Davis (D-N.C.), for associating himself with people who want to “ruin white males.” … The website,, takes aim at Davis over his purported association with a local journalist, Tom Fiedler. It says that Fiedler “quit his academia job in Boston to work for non-white males, like Cory Booker who aims to ruin white males.”

That’s from the Bulwark, a conservative site that is critical of Trump and Trumpism. (The grammatical errors above are Cawthorn’s, not the Bulwark’s.) The New York Times’ write-up of the Bulwark scoop calls Cawthorn’s attack a “racist dog whistle,” which doesn’t really do it justice: The idea of a political dog whistle is that “normal” people think that they’re hearing an acceptably colorblind statement, while right-wing extremists recognize coded language about race (for instance, there’s Cawthorn’s decision to name his real estate investment company after an acronym for “the Senate and People of Rome,” a motto favored by “Western Civilization”–fetishizing white nationalists). A complaint about “non-white males” and a scheme to “ruin white males running for office” is just “great replacement” racist grievance, no decoding required.

Cawthorn has also been accused of unwanted sexual touching by multiple women (he has denied one woman’s claims but does not appear to have addressed all of the accusations). In 2017, he posted a photo on Instagram from Adolf Hitler’s German vacation home, writing in its caption that visiting the site had been an item on his “bucket list.” (“Strange to hear so many laughs and share such a good time with my brother where only 79 years ago a supreme evil shared laughs and good times with his compatriots,” the caption continued. OK?)

In a statement quoted by the Times, Cawthorn convolutedly expressed regret for “having unfairly implied I was criticizing Cory Booker,” which is notable in that it is not an apology for attacking the journalist in question, Tom Fiedler, as a traitor to his race.

In any case, Cook Political Report characterizes Cawthorn’s race against Davis as “lean Republican,” and we look forward to his entry in the 2032 presidential primary.