Trump Cheers Republican Senate Candidate Who Has Called An Anti-Semite His Hero

Virginia Republicans voted to nominate a Senate candidate with deep connections to white supremacists and anti-Muslim coalitions Tuesday evening. Corey Stewart, a former gubernatorial candidate, confederate statue defender and praiser of anti-Semites clinched the nomination in a fairly close race. He will now run against incumbent Democratic Senator Tim Kaine in the general election. 

President Donald Trump praised the outcome in a tweet Wednesday morning. “Congratulations to Corey Stewart for his great victory for Senator from Virginia,” he wrote. “Now he runs against a total stiff, Tim Kaine, who is weak on crime and borders, and wants to raise your taxes through the roof. Don’t underestimate Corey, a major chance of winning!”

Stewart has called Republican congressional candidate Paul Nehlen his “personal hero.” Nehlen’s campaign has posted anti-Semitic memes, tweeted out a list of Jewish journalists, and promoted a book by neo-Nazi Kevin MacDonald.

A number of white nationalists are running for Republican party bids across the country, but most of them have little to no chance at the actual nomination. Republican strategist Ford O’Connell says that Stewart’s win doesn’t suggest a change in that trend.

“The number one thing when running in a primary is name identification, and Stewart has that from running for governor,” he explained. “In terms of setting a national precedent, you’ve got battles all over the country and people aren’t paying that much attention to the Virginia race.”

“You’d see more uproar on the Republican side if this were a race that Republicans had a fighting chance on,” explained O’Connell. “Republicans nationally won't talk about this and outside of media markets in Washington D.C., Democrats won’t talk about it either.”

Still, Trump’s endorsement of Stewart carries some weight. “Stewart has been a dogged supporter of Trump and the president understands that you have to reward those who have been loyal,” said O’Connell. “The thing with Stewart is that he fires up the base and the more base voters you can turn out the better; maybe Democrats will have to spend some money defending Kaine.”

O’Connell, who worked as an adviser to Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, says that there is no moral dilemma when it comes to Trump supporting Stewart publicly. “We’re in an era where the rules are out the window—right now both sides are just trying to win,” he said. “Republicans have tried the Romney strategy and it didn’t work, and now they’re just going to try to throw up anything at the wall and see what sticks.”

Read more from Nicole Goodkind at Newsweek

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