Appearing as a guest on Friday's Wolf show, liberal CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley tagged Donald Trump as the "kingpin" of "dog whistles and innuendo about race," charging that the GOP presidential candidate is "looking for racist votes." He also worked in a dig at Richard Nixon as he accused the former Republican President of campaigning on the term "law and order" as a "clever way to be a bigot."
At about 1:45 p.m. ET, substitute host Brianna Keilar brought up the issue of how Trump responds to questions about being endorsed by white supremacists:
Doug, it seems like normally when a Republican is asked -- or any, I mean, any politician is asked about something, a racist group, there's this almost kneejerk condemnation that Donald Trump doesn't -- he does sort of follow different rules, but he doesn't quite follow that script, right?
Brinkley saw bigotry in the use of the term "law and order" by Trump and Nixon as he began:
Well, right, he goes off the script, but he is the kingpin of dog whistles and innuendo about race. Part of the problem is that since 1968 Richard Nixon decided that "law and order" was a clever way to be a bigot, you know, let's not focus in 1968 on the Vietnam War, let's talk about crime in the streets and African-American riots in ghettos.
It worked for a while for Nixon, but, of course, it caught up with him by 1973 and '74, his taking America to the gutter politics, and I would argue that Donald Trump's candidacy, if he loses, he's going to be known in history for bigotry and xenophobia and doing these kinds of dog whistles.
The liberal historian then suggested that it is racist to support building a wall to secure the border with Mexico as he concluded:
You know, when he talks about the wall, and talks about Latino Americans the way he does, he does it in a law and order way, we're going to get all the drug dealers. But people are smart. They know what he's saying. He's looking for racist votes, and white supremacists have been flocking to Donald Trump.
Keilar gently pushed back as she ended the segment:
He is insistent that that is not what he has been saying, but we know we will look back in years to come, and we will see, Doug, if your assessment is right there. Douglas Brinkley, presidential historian, thank you.