Talk about missing the mark.
Via the Duluth News Tribune, the Miami Herald reports in White supremacist group behind Trump robocalls:
To at least some rather sketchy Donald Trump backers, the fact that two Cuban-American conservatives are seriously figuring in the run for the White House is apparently nothing to celebrate.
A couple of Trump supporters with what critics say are racist backgrounds are putting out calls to their followers not to vote for the billionaire’s main rivals for the GOP presidential nomination, Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, because they are Cuban-American.
Yes, they went there.
“Don’t vote for a Cuban,” warns a new robocall that was going out to Minnesota and Vermont voters in support of Trump, the Daily Beast reported earlier this week. Behind the call is a super PAC tied to a white nationalist party. Trump has previously disavowed past calls by the super PAC in Iowa, and there is no evidence linking his campaign and the PAC.
Talking Points Memo posted the audio and text first in New White Supremacist PAC Robocalls: 'Don’t Vote For A Cuban,' Vote Trump! (AUDIO).
Minnesota state statute forbids the use of robocalls except in a handful of circumstances.
UPDATE February 26: At the Star Tribune, Liz Sawyer reports that a [w]hite nationalist group makes robocalls to Iron Range supporting Trump, including Hibbing DFL state representative Carly Melin:
Hibbing resident Roberta Maki, a registered DFLer, said she was shocked by the rhetoric when she played it back on her voice mail.
"It was just sort of surprising, because it's very brazen," said Maki, who thinks she was accidentally added to a GOP mailing list. "It was unbelievable. Somebody had to write this down, and it's not just a rant." . . .
State Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, took to Twitter to inform her followers that she'd also received the call, and recorded the message on her phone. Rochester residents also reported on social media that they'd also been targeted by the group. . . .
As a point of fact, Minnesota does not ask voters to register along partisan lines. Instead, voters motivated to caucus pick one party; primaries are open, but a voter must vote only for candidates in one party.
That being said, we're curious if any caucusing Republicans are getting these calls. As KEYC-TV reported last night, both Rubio and Cruz enjoy support among party activists and elected leaders. [end update]
Calling Jessica Rohloff
On her Facebook page (which is set to be shared with the public), Willmar Area League of Women Voters President Jessica Rohloff reports getting one of the robocalls on Thursday night:
I got a white supremacist robocall tonight. I don't mean they alluded to things that lead me to believe they were white supremacist, I mean it was literally a message about the supremacy of the white race and why I should caucus for Donald Trump. I know Mr. Trump is not paying for them but he certainly isn't distancing or toning down his rhetoric in response. Something to think about when these views are being seen as "main stream".
A couple of observations. Rohloff's last letter to the editors of the West Central Tribune is An evening of diversity, inclusion:
I want to thank the community for your support of the Women’s Works program in October. As the girls from the county group home left newly inspired I knew our work would have been worth it, even if they had been the only guests. For those who missed the show there will be an encore performance at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 22, at the Little Theatre in New London, free tickets available at Eventbrite.
Women’s Works was the culmination of an idea that started a few years ago with the movie “Captain Phillips.” A Minnesota Somali actor was nominated for an Oscar. This was exciting, especially for the Somali community.
When I saw the film I noticed Somali families and their children in attendance. I thought great but, in the film all the Muslim Somali characters are the bad guys and every single one dies in the end.
This reminded me of my Native American friends who told me as kids they used to go see cowboy and Indian movies just so they could see someone like them. They did this despite the fact that they were always portrayed as the bad guys. They went because it feels better as a human to be included, even if it isn’t positive.
I promised if I ever had a chance I would find a way to show a fuller and more positive way to represent my Muslim friends and neighbors. Then I saw the award-winning dance ensemble Al Taw’am. They are twin sisters who choreograph and perform original pieces wearing the hijab. They believe their abilities are a gift to be used to inspire others.
From this spark a show was created that included original work from local artists including dance, storytelling and music. The pieces spoke about gratitude, friendship, ability, living and dying as women. We used our individual talents to bring us together.
We came together as the Business and Professional Women’s Association, Empower of United Way, League of Women Voters, Polka Dot Powerhouse, Willmar Area Community Foundation, and Vision 20/40 and it was a success.
Earlier in the year, the Tribune reported in League of Women Voters speaker believes felons need second chance at jobs, voting:
Justice 4 All, a Twin Cities-based organization, promotes giving the thousands of Minnesotans with criminal records a second chance at becoming productive members of society.
“We want to make sure people are stepping out, rather than stepping back into their old ways,” Terrell said during Monday’s presentation during a League of Women Voters meeting.
A total of nearly 60,000 people were turned away from polls in the 2014 election due to felony convictions, according to a New York University study.
Unclear voting laws prevent even more felons from voting in Minnesota, said Jessica Rohloff, leader of League of Women Voters.
“I imagine there are people who are afraid and don’t want to get their second felony,” Rohloff said. “We need to make this simpler.”
Minnesota law requires felons to complete incarceration time, along with any probation and parole time, before they can vote.
Justice 4 All’s mission is to allow those with a criminal record the right to vote as soon as they are released from prison or jail, as is the case in several other states.
A disproportionate number of those not allowed to vote in Minnesota are also African-American, Terrell said.
While only 5.7 percent of Minnesota’s population is African-American, 34.6 percent of Minnesota’s prison population is African-American, according to data from the U.S. Census and Minnesota Department of Corrections.
“This is insane. Systems are at play creating these kinds of dynamics,” Terrell said. “If it’s a problem people made, it’s a problem people can solve.”
Mayor Marv Calvin attended Monday’s presentation and agreed that felons should have the right to vote once they are out in the community.
“I think people should look at this issue and get involved by contacting representatives,” Calvin said. “I think it is an important issue. If you are not incarcerated, you should be able to vote.” . . .
Somehow we get the distinct impression that the racists aren't being particular about who they call in the Willmar area. Rohloff is one of the many people working to make the city a friendly and welcoming place for everyone, the sort of engaged citizen praised in Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's recent letter praising the regional center, Kudos on defending Willmar immigrants:
I read with interest the West Central Tribune’s Jan. 21 editorial defending Willmar’s immigrant community. I commend the editorial board for speaking out against hateful speech that demeans Willmar’s East-African residents. I thank you for celebrating the invaluable economic and cultural contributions of these hard-working Minnesotans.
Minnesota was built by immigrants and pioneers. Today’s immigrants may look and sound different than the Germans and Scandinavians of generations past. But their hard work, and the dreams and aspirations they hold for their children, themselves, and our communities are no different.
Willmar is stronger because of our immigrant neighbors. So is Minnesota.
Willmar and the West Central Tribune have taken an important stand. I applaud your courage. And I stand with you as a partner as we resolve to make our state a welcoming place for all Minnesotans.
Moroever, four years ago, Rohloff unsuccessfully sought the DFL endorsement for the local legislative seat. Since Minnesota doesn't have a system of party registration, we have conclude that the white nationalists aren't from around here.
As far as area Republicans go, MN 17A Representative Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, is supporting Ted Cruz, while we're not sure who Rep. Dave Baker, R-MN17B, is supporting.
Several of Rohloff's Facebook friends comment that they or their parents also received the call. A few are illustrating some downhome prairie snark:
Jessica Rohloff yep google it, the final tag line is don't vote for a Cuban, vote for Donald TrumpAmy Roeder Oh. My. God. I'd vote for a Cuban SANDWICH over Trump.
The story in the Duluth News Tribune reports on Trump's reaction, such as it is:
In response to a request for a reaction, the Trump campaign issued a brief statement that alluded to the robocalls but did not address the Duke comment: “Mr. Trump nor the campaign have knowledge of this group or the calls being made. We have disavowed all super PACs and any related activities.”
It’s well known that Trump’s candidacy has attracted open support from avowed white supremacists and anti-immigration groups. The campaign is not known to have courted any directly, but Trump’s critics say his calls for a wall on the Mexican border, the ejection of millions of undocumented immigrants and a ban on Muslim immigrants have rallied enthusiastic support from racist groups and individuals.
A copy of the robocall
As we finished up this post, another friend in the Willmar area sent us an audio file of the robocall he received. We'll post it after we authenticate it.
Bluestem has called Rohloff for a comment; we'll post her response when she gets back to us.
Update: In addition to voters in Hibbing, Rochester and Willmar, a least one reader in Waseca received a call. Robert Hunter writes:
I think I got the robo call you wrote about last night. I heard the first 30 seconds and hung up.
One can certainly understand that.
Photo: Jessica Rohloff's America. Justice 4 All speaker Justin Terrill is at the left in the photo; Rohloff is the woman in the blue top. Via Facebook.
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