Donald Trump has a new boogeyman to scare midterm voters, an unruly mob known as antifa.
“These are bad people,” the president said at the rally for Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp in Macon, Georgia, on Sunday. “These are the people causing problems and the press doesn’t want to talk about them.”
Trump implied that black-clad anti-fascist protesters are effectively a paramilitary force working on behalf of the Democrats.
“If the radical resistance wins power – and that’s what they are, the radical resistance – they will move immediately to reverse America’s progress and eradicate all the gains we’ve made,” Trump said.
The president’s decision to play up the threat by the far-left anti-fascist movement comes as the country is still reeling from a number of violent incidents carried out by individuals influenced by the far-right.
In the last month alone, the Proud Boys, a fascist street gang, brawled with protesters in New York and Portland, an ardent Trump fan in Florida sent more than a dozen package bombs to the president’s biggest critics, a white man fatally shot two black people at a supermarket in Kentucky, and an anti-Semitic man killed 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
And most recently, on Saturday – one day before Trump’s back-to-back rallies in Macon – a man who engaged with nationalist and misogynistic or “Incel” content online opened fire on a yoga class in Tallahassee, leaving two dead and five injured.
But invoking the antifa menace may play particularly well in Georgia, where Kemp is locked in a tight race with Democratic newcomer Stacey Abrams. Kemp’s supporters have tried to stoke fears that Abrams is aligned with radical leftists, often pointing to the fact that she once joined in the burning burned of the Georgia state flag, which encompasses a small Confederate flag, during a college protest at the state Capitol in 1992.
“Take a look at her past, take a look at her history, take a look at what she wants to do and what she has in mind for the state,” Trump said last week in reference to Abrams. “That state will be in big, big trouble very quickly and the people of Georgia don’t want that.”
Trump’s rhetoric over the weekend wasn’t the first time he’s tried to suggest that a Democratic win in the midterms would lead to unchecked antifa violence.
“They will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently, ” he told Christian leaders during a private meeting in August, according to an audio recording obtained by the New York Times. “When you look at antifa, and you look at some of these groups, these are violent people.”
Cover: President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally for Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and other Tennessee Republican candidates at the McKenzie Arena November 4, 2018 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)