A white supremacist group says it has placed thousands of automated phone calls in the US state of Iowa urging voters to back billionaire Donald Trump’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination because ‘we don’t need Muslims’.
The telephone campaign is led by the American Freedom Party, which on its website says it ‘shares the customs and heritage of the European American people’.
The calls featured the spokesman of a white supremacist group that Dylann Roof, who is accused of gunning down nine people at a black church in South Carolina in June, had reportedly cited as inspiration.
‘We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people who will assimilate to our culture,’ Jared Taylor, editor of the supremacist magazine American Renaissance, says on the call.
Taylor is also spokesman of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a supremacist group with historic links to the White Citizens Council, a segregationist organisation set up in Mississippi in 1954.
The group also attempted to buy radio time in Iowa but was rebuffed.
The group has placed about 200,000 ‘robocalls’ in Iowa and may also target New Hampshire, organisers said. The American Freedom Party published an audio recording of the call on its website.
Iowa kicks off the voting in the nominating contests leading up to the November 2016 presidential election with its caucuses on February 1. New Hampshire holds the country’s first primary elections on February 9.
The campaign by the American National Super PAC injects another controversial wrinkle into a presidential campaign that has been more racially charged than any in recent memory.
Trump has emerged as a surprise front runner in the Republican nominating contest after calling Mexican immigrants ‘rapists’ in his speech declaring his candidacy and saying the US should ban Muslims from entering the country, following the massacre in San Bernardino, California, last month by a young Muslim couple.
The group bought airtime on a Des Moines Christian radio station to broadcast its message but the station says it will not broadcast the show.
Trump has not sought the backing of white supremacist groups but several say his success has helped them win new supporters.