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Speaker Johnson Embraces “Replacement” Theory as Texas GOP Pretends to Denounce Dangerous Conspiracy

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Updated tracking of deadly conspiracy theories highlights 82 unique TV ads from GOP-affiliated campaigns or entities, totaling at least $19M

Washington, DC — After reporting from the Texas Tribune highlighted that prominent Republicans and right wing leaders were set to attend a conference of the “True Texas Project,” which openly embraces white Christian nationalism and the Great Replacement Theory and defended the motivation of the El Paso shooter, multiple GOP attendees have now pulled out of the conference (read more in the Texas Tribune here).

This is not Republican discomfort with the embrace of this dangerous white nationalist conspiracy, just a realization that there could be negative political consequences for being associated with the most extreme elements driving GOP politics in Texas. At the same time, GOP leaders at the highest levels are driving the spread of the “replacement” and related “invasion” theory among the GOP, including House Speaker Mike Johnson.

Of note, Speaker Mike Johnson has been on Fox News in recent weeks openly embracing the Great Replacement Theory, including yesterday, last week, and the prior two weeks (here and here), saying of Democrats and President Biden such assertions as:

  • “[T]hey want the open border because they want to turn these people into voters.”
  • “Biden is allowing thousands of people over the border every day … why would they do that? Because they want to turn these people into voters. That’s the only thing, the only rational explanation for what they’ve done.”
  • “The reason they opened the border and subjected us to all of this catastrophe is because the people in charge want to turn these folks into voters and affect the outcome of the census.”

In addition to Speaker Johnson, many of his GOP colleagues and allies have similarly been embracing and mainstreaming this dangerous conspiracy. Updated and ongoing tracking research from America’s Voice has found:

  • In 2024 alone, there have been 82 unique TV and CTV ads from Republican-affiliated campaigns or entities, totaling at least $19M, that mention the “replacement” theory or interrelated “invasion” conspiracy compiled by AdImpact data.
  • As of April 2024, America’s Voice has identified 165 Republican Members of the 118th Congress employing this rhetoric in their official capacity 584 times this year

According to Zachary Mueller, Senior Director of Research for America’s Voice: 

“The problem is not contained to a single group in Texas as the embrace of white nationalist conspiracies has become a main talking point of the GOP’s 2024 campaign.  Speaker Johnson and his Republican colleagues are embracing and mainstreaming the same dangerous conspiracy theory that drove incidents of tragic violence in Charlottesville, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and five years ago next month, El Paso. Despite some politicians and activists pulling out of the white nationalist convention in Texas, no one should be under the impression that the GOP is doing anything but elevating dangerous immigration conspiracies that are a threat to public safety and American democracy.”

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