Colman Domingo
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Gary Johnson: If Donald Trump's Comments Are Racist, So Is He

Donald Trump and Gary Johnson

Libertarian candidate for president Gary Johnson went further this weekend than almost anyone in his former party — the GOP — and said Donald Trump is a racist. 

Johnson, the former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, said during a CNN interview that being a racist should disqualify Trump from being president. 

And while some Republicans have abandoned Trump — including former Treasury secretary Hank Paulson and famed Washington Post columnist George Will (who quit the party) — they haven’t said Trump is racist, even if they’ve called his comments racist. 

It’s been a carefully walked line. But Johnson threw out that distinction during the CNN interview.

“Based on his statements, clearly,” Johnson said, when asked if Trump is a racist. “If the statements are being made, is that not reflective?”

Johnson had been asked about one of Trump’s recent comments, made during a town hall in New Hampshire, where he told a woman in the audience that he’s looking into whether to replace any woman at the Transportation Security Administration who wears a hijab.

But Johnson wasn’t referring only to anti-Muslim statements. 

“When it comes to Mexican immigration and that he would call immigrants from Mexico murderers and rapists,” said Johnson. “Look, that’s just not true — they are more law-abiding than U.S. citizens, and that is a statistic.”

Johnson also called out Trump for questioning the ability of an American federal judge based on his Mexican heritage, labeling all of Trump’s rhetoric “incendiary.” 

“It really is, it’s racist,” he said. 

Johnson reminded viewers that House Speaker Paul Ryan had said something similar, quipping, “I think I’m now semi-quoting Paul Ryan here.”

Actually, Ryan stopped short of calling Trump a racist. Ryan said Trump’s comments about the judge were “sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment.” And he’s still endorsing Trump. 

Whether racist comments mean Trump himself is a racist will likely become a theme during the campaign. Trump was blasted this weekend as anti-Semitic for a tweet that pictured a star of David over a pile of money when attacking Hillary Clinton as corrupt. He says it was a sheriff’s star but still deleted the tweet.

In the few polls that ask whether Trump makes racist comments, Americans broadly answer yes. And Trump is trailing Clinton in polls, often by single digits, occasionally by double digits. But he’s still raking in potential voters. So far, Americans haven’t “disqualified” Trump — whether for his comments or for embodying them.

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