tags: Press Releases

Karoline Leavitt and Her Former Boss Elise Stefanik Represent the New Face of White Nationalism in the GOP

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Washington, DC – Among the winners of last night’s New Hampshire primaries was Karoline Leavitt in the contested Republican primary for the NH-01 congressional seat. Leavitt ran hard on nativism in the primary, including running one of the ugliest ads our GOP ad tracker has spotted this cycle. 

In her first-ever TV ad, Leavitt uses an out-of-context photo from September of last year of Black asylum seekers fleeing a desperate situation in Haiti, next to text that reads “allowing illegals to invade.” This is a disturbing echo of the “invasion” rhetoric of the white nationalist terrorist who murdered 10 African American shoppers and employees at a grocery store in Buffalo three months prior. This is the same falsehood echoed by multiple domestic terrorists, including the shooter who attacked shoppers at a WalMart in El Paso and a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

In Washington Post coverage of a recent America’s Voice political report, Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman highlighted the ad from Leavitt: 

“In the world of Republican campaign ads, very little has changed since the xenophobic Trump presidency, and some of what’s in these ads is truly repellent … the Republican ads portray horror and chaos — usually with a non-White face. Some ads show pictures of young Black men walking through rivers on their way to ‘invade’ America…” 

Leavitt’s use of the false, white nationalist conspiracy theory was not a one-off. In a televised primary debate, Leavitt predicted, “in 2023, we will have an illegal invasion on our southern border continue.” A line she then promoted in Facebook ads. Leavitt is also the former communications director for Rep. Elise Stefanik, who has run replacement theory ads and doubled down on the “invasion” rhetoric following the horrific attack in Buffalo. Leavitt quickly took to Twitter to defend her former boss employing the same invasion rhetoric as the shooter.

As the Washington Post described, Leavitt is “an ex-member of the Trump White House press team who ran as an ‘America First’ insurgent running against the Washington establishment.” Yet her campaign “against the Washington establishment” is curious given her tenure as a former communications director for Rep. Elise Stefanik, a member of GOP leadership

According to Zachary Mueller, Political Director for America’s Voice “As Rep. Elise Stefanik makes her leadership ambitions clear, we should take note that the third-ranking House Republican has unapologetically embraced white nationalist conspiracy theories with a direct link to mass political violence. And the candidates she supports echo that same deadly rhetoric in their campaigns for Congress. Karoline Leavitt and Rep. Elise Stefanik are looking to be the new face of the Republican House, and to do that, they are ushering white nationalism into the mainstream. This should be a disturbingly sobering fact for all those who believe in the promise of America’s multi-racial democracy.”