Donald Trump is on the cusp of picking his running mate—and it might make white supremacists very, very upset.
The mogul has said he’s eyeing former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich as a potential running mate. The move makes sense on a lot of levels, not the least of which is the fact that the two seem to like each other.
But left unsaid is how much Gingrich differs from Trump on the alleged billionaire’s two signature issues: trade—he was one of the key players in the passage of NAFTA, which Trump says is the worst trade deal of all time—and immigration. In fact, Gingrich started a website to reach out to Hispanic voters and argued vociferously in his 2012 presidential bid that law-abiding undocumented immigrants should be eligible for permanent legal status. He even said that mass deportation—a policy position Trump holds—is inhumane and un-American. So the possibility of a Gingrich pick has Trump’s typically-loyal white supremacists on edge.
In 2009, Gingrich rolled out a bilingual website called The Americano. It was designed to pitch conservative values to Hispanic voters, and ran blog posts from former Florida governor Jeb Bush, former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, and Alfonso Aguilar, George W. Bush’s citizenship czar. The site hosted its first (and only) Annual Hispanic Forum in 2010.
The site folded in 2011 because, Aguilar told The Daily Beast, it couldn’t get sufficient advertising revenue. (If you go to the site now, you get a warning that it might give you malware.)
But through the launch process, Aguilar said Gingrich developed valuable relationships with conservative Hispanic leaders—relationships that could serve him well as a veep contender—if he stays true to them.
“His bona fides with the Hispanic community are very good,” Aguilar said, noting that Gingrich has much better connections in that world than Michael Flynn and Mike Pence, two other possible veep picks.
But the policy positions that helped Gingrich build those bridges also resulted in his condemning central parts of Trump’s immigration platform. In a CNN debate during the 2012 Republican presidential primary, he bashed heads with Mitt Romney over the feasibility and advisability of mass deportation.
“I don’t see how the party that says it’s the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter century,” he said. “And I’m prepared to take the heat for saying, let’s be humane in enforcing the law without giving them citizenship but by finding a way to create legality.”
And in a campaign speech to the Hispanic Leadership Network on Jan. 27, 2012, he made the case for a guest worker program—a stance Trump currently opposes. And it isn’t a stance Gingrich has abandoned. In 2013, he wrote on his Gingrich Productions site that the “deportation of 12 million people, without regard to their circumstances, would constitute a level of inhumanity the American people would never accept.”
In the same piece, he made an impassioned plea for more inclusive Republican rhetoric.
“As a party, we simply cannot continue with immigration rhetoric that in 2012 became catastrophic—in large part because it was not grounded in reality,” he wrote.
These positions have made white supremacists a little antsy about the possibility of Gingrich as V.P. “NO TO NEWT! A Gingrich VP Will Only Weaken Trump,” blares a headline on the white supremacist site VDare.com.
Another VDare.com piece, published July 10 of this year, dubbed him a “cuckservative”—perhaps the most damning criticism a white supremacist can level.
Ann Coulter, a columnist Trump praises, also opposes Gingrich because of his immigration stance.
Trump, as is extraordinarily well documented, has spent much of his presidential bid demonizing Hispanics and immigration in general, making 2012 Mitt Romney sound like Cesar Chavez. If he picks Gingrich as his V.P., he risks upsetting his base—and giving everyone a very bad case of ideological whiplash.