President Trump on Tuesday doubled down on his embrace of the “nationalist” label, telling reporters that he’s “proud” to call himself a nationalist, and denied that the term carries any racial undertones.
“I’ve never even heard that. I cannot imagine that,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office when asked if his comments in Houston that he’s a nationalist imply that he’s a white nationalist.
“I’m somebody that loves our country,” he added.
“All I want for our country is to be treated well, to be treated with respect,” Trump said. “For many years other countries that are allies of ours, so-called allies, they have not treated our country fairly, so in that sense I am absolutely a nationalist and I’m proud of it.”
At a Monday rally in support Ted Cruz’s Senate re-election campaign, Trump openly embraced the “Nationalist” label.
“Really, we’re not supposed to use that word,” he told the crowd. “You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, O.K.? I’m a nationalist. Nationalist! Use that word! Use that word!”
“Radical Democrats want to turn back the clock” to restore the “rule of corrupt, power-hungry globalists,” he said in Houston. “You know what a globalist is, right? You know what a globalist is? A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much. And you know what? We can’t have that.”
The president’s opponents quickly denounced his comments.
“The President of the United States openly identifies himself as a nationalist, calls for the jailing of his political opponents, attacks the press & cozies up to dictators, while Republicans in Congress stand idly by,” Robert Reich, a former labor secretary under President Bill Clinton, wrote on Twitter.
“Does Trump know the historical baggage associated with this word, or is he ignorant? Honest question,” wrote former ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama and a professor at Stanford University, Michael McFaul.
The Hill notes:
The term nationalist has in recent years become more broadly associated with white nationalists, such as those who organized the violent rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017.
Trump, who defended some of those rally-goers as “very fine people,” said he had not heard such a theory.
— CNN (@CNN) October 23, 2018