WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump sought to distance himself from the white nationalist movement Friday as a growing chorus of Democrats have accused him of being a racist whose anti-immigrant rhetoric has given fuel to the ideology.
Asked for his response to some Democrats who have said he is a white nationalist or a white supremacist, Trump pushed back. “I don’t like it when they do it because I’m not any of those things, I think it’s a disgrace and it shows how desperate the Democrats are,” Trump told reporters before departing the White House for a New York fundraiser.
“For them to throw out the race word again — 'racist, racist, racist' — that's all they use to anybody," he added. "They called Nancy Pelosi a racist. She's not a racist. They call anybody a racist when they run out of cards.”
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Trump's statement that said he didn’t like Democrats accusing him or others of being racist came shortly after he leveled the accusation at Hollywood.
“Hollywood is really terrible. You talk about racist — Hollywood is racist,” Trump had told reporters a few minutes earlier. “What they're doing with the kind of movies they're putting out, it's actually very dangerous for our country. What Hollywood is doing is a tremendous disservice to our country.”
The president condemned “racism, bigotry and white supremacy” in a televised address Monday following the killing of almost two dozen people in El Paso, Texas, where the shooter appeared to be specifically targeting Mexicans. But those remarks did not dampen the criticism over his previous rhetoric.
Trump has been called a white nationalist or a white supremacist this week by several Democratic presidential candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, citing his divisive language and actions toward immigrants.
The president has called himself a “nationalist” in the past, but framed it in the context of putting America’s interests first. The word, however, carries a strong connotation as being associated with anti-Semitism and the alt-right movement.
Trump has shown no signs of backing down on his policies toward immigration. He stood by his administration's decision to carry out a raid on a food processing plant where more than 600 people were arrested. In many cases, those arrested had children who were left without any parent to take care of them.
“I want people to know that if they come into the United States illegally, they are getting out. They'll be brought out. And this is a very good deterrent,” Trump said.