The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: 2022 midterms

Is Joe Biden’s Approval Rating In ‘Free Fall’? Nope

Reprinted with permission from Press Run

Amid breathless reports of a political "free fall" and reeling from the White House's "summer from hell," the Beltway press has leaned into the idea that Joe Biden's presidency is unraveling — that his approval rating is in a state of collapse.

Except it's not true. Instead, it's the media falling in love with their favorite Dems In Disarray storyline. The same media that shrugged at Trump's chronically awful approval rating.

In a typical, overheated dispatch, a CNBC report recently announced, "Biden's Approval Ratings Have Plummeted, and That Could Spell trouble for Democrats in Congress." First off, the idea that Biden's approval rating in September 2021, is going to impact the outcome of November 2022 midterms makes no sense. Secondly, Biden's approval rating has fallen a grand total of four points in the past month, according to the polling average tabulated at FiveThirtyEight. So much for the "plummet."

Is Biden's' approval rating down this summer? It is, to 46 percent. Is he in some sort of manic freefall as the press suggests, fueled by the troop pullout from Afghanistan and the Delta surge? He is not.

A true ratings collapse would be like when President Ronald Reagan's approval dropped nine points in five days when the Iran Contra scandal broke. Or when George W. Bush's cratered 16 points in three months following the launch of the disastrous Iraq War.

Here are the Biden approval ratings from last 15 polls posted at FiveThirtyEight, minus the Rasmussen surveys, which are notoriously pro-Republican: 46, 44, 47, 47, 49, 47, 48, 42, 48, 49, 47, 44, 47, 50, 48.

If you take out the high (50) and the low (42) data points, the results have been markedly consistent this month. Where's the plummet?

When a recent Quinnipiac poll showed Biden's approval at 42 percent, Newsweek announced, "Joe Biden's Approval Rating Continues to Sink, Shows No Signs of Improving." Newsweek then ignored the fact that the next seven polls released after Quinnipiac all showed him improving.

The cherry picking seems intentional. When a NPR/PBS voter survey in early September showed Biden's approval at 43 percent, CNN's Chris Cillizza pounced: "This Poll Number Will Send Democrats Into a Panic." A week later though, Cillizza was silent when CNN's own poll found Biden's approval climbing to 52 percent.

CNN seemed to struggle with how to cover its good-news-for-Biden poll when the Beltway's preferred narrative was his "summer from hell." This was CNN's online headline for a story that showed Biden with a strong approval rating: "Americans Turn Pessimistic Amid Concerns Over Economy and Coronavirus." Later in a news segment, when a CNN anchor suggested the network's latest showing had Biden's rating at 43 percent, she had to be corrected by a guest who pointed out CNN's survey showed a 52 percent mark.

Biden's summertime slide has been fueled by Afghanistan and Covid, two unique and pressing challenges. But it also represents a natural progression for first term presidents as the so-called "honeymoon" with voters slowly wears off. Between being sworn in January 2009, and September 1 of that year, President Barack Obama, a successful two-term president, lost seven points on his approval rating, which is exactly how many points Biden has dipped since his inauguration.

Note that as with Biden, the press often obsessed over minor downward movements in Obama's approval in order to concoct a narrative about a president "sinking" and "plunging." At one point, a New York Times editorial was so anxious to push a narrative about Obama's supposedly broken presidency, it fabricated his approval rating, claiming it was 40 percent in a new poll, when it was actually 50 percent in that new survey.

The contrast with how the press has treated the popularity of the last two Democratic presidents with how they treated Trump's unpopularity couldn't be more startling.

When Biden's approval rating first fell below 50 percent this summer, it was considered newsworthy, as pundits weigh in on the approval "slide" and wondered if the Afghanistan story was going to doom his presidency. Rarely included in that heavy-handed analysis was the fact that at the same point in his presidency, Trump was sitting at a woeful 37 percent approval rating.

While Trump wallowed in abysmal ratings for most of his presidency (he never cracked 50 percent), the press mostly looked away, treating his poor standing as being usual. It was normalized.

Here's a quick example. In October, 2018 Politico published a piece about Trump's fire hose, "new media strategy," where he appeared on TV without pause and constantly answered reporters' shouted questions at the White House. In the eyes of Politico, it was a novel and winning strategy — it "worked" for Trump. And Politico even singled out Trump's top aide who was responsible for the approach.

Of course, what Politico never mentioned, and what the D.C. press didn't really think mattered in October 2018, was that Trump's approval stood at a lowly 41 percent.

Can you imagine today if Biden's approval fell five more points, to 41 percent, and the Beltway press started writing stories about how smart his communications strategy was? It's inconceivable because Democrats are held to a tougher media standard.

Ohio GOP Candidate Praises Woman Who Went To Work Sick

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In Ohio, former State Treasurer Josh Mandel is among the far-right Republicans competing in the Buckeye State's 2022 U.S. Senate race. And the Trump loyalist is being slammed by critics following a Friday, August 20 visit to an Ohio brewery where he praised an employee for going to work sick.

The brewery that Mandel visited was Inside the Five in Perrysburg, Ohio, where he met an employee named Brianne. Mandel later tweeted a photo of himself with his arm around Brianne, writing, "Even though Brianne was sick today, she came to work because she knew they were short servers. These are the type of American workers that make our country strong."

Neither Mandel nor Brianne is wearing a mask in the August 20 photo. After co-owner Chris Morris found out that Brianne had been sick, he sent her home — stressing that he doesn't want employees to come to work when they're sick. And now, according to Ohio's 13 ABC, Morris is worried that his business will suffer because of the bad publicity Mandel has brought him.

Morris told 13 ABC, "Anytime we're shown in a bad light, it's upsetting to us, but we'll get through this."

Mandel has an embarrassing history of coronavirus denialism. On June 1, he tweeted a photo of himself burning a protective face mask, posting "FREEDOM":

On August 20, Mandel doubled down on saying that Brianne should have come to work sick — and he even attacked the brewery, posting:

Mandel is being inundated with negative tweets for encouraging risky behavior during a pandemic. Journalist Molly Jong-Fast posted:

Here are some more reactions:

Spooked By Negative Polls, Republican Politicians Now Push Vaccination

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Vaccinated Americans are pretty damn upset about the lagging vaccination rates—mainly among white GOP voters—that have led to a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases, particularly in red states.

Now Senate Republicans want Americans to know who to blame for the low vaccination rates of GOP voters: Democrats.

In case you missed it, Republicans are now pro-vaccine, and the sudden surge of the Delta variant is all President Joe Biden's fault. At least, that's the bridge Senate Republicans and some GOP governors are selling.

Before we go any further, let's be clear about what the GOP's latest gaslighting effort represents: an all-hands-on-deck clean-up on aisle COVID-19.

"When it comes to COVID, there should only be one message to the American people and that should be: Vaccines work," Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming told reporters Tuesday in the ultimate Johnny-come-lately of pandemic statements. Barrasso then went on to accuse the White House and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of "medical malpractice" for having chaotic messages on masking, lockdowns, and other coronavirus mitigation efforts. Never mind the fact that the red-state surge is what has landed the country back in masking territory.

Now that Republicans have driven the country back into a COVID-19 ditch, they're planting the keys on President Joe Biden. Indeed, anti-masker and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is pinning the Sunshine State's deadly outbreak on Biden's border policies. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is suddenly a huge promoter of "VACCINATIONS!" And Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—who's 'perplexed' by the vaccine hesitancy mostly coursing through red America—is now funding radio ads urging residents of Kentucky to get vaccinated. Just eight of the state's more than 120 counties have reported vaccination rates above 50 percent, according to recent CDC data.

Here's one thing we can all be assured of: Mitch McConnell doesn't lavish campaign funds on public health for the sake of public health. His campaign expenditure is a sure sign that Republicans—particularly those in swing states and swing districts—don't like what they are seeing in the polling.

In fact, a newly released Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index is offering a window into the motivations behind the GOP's latest blame-shifting campaign. Of the roughly 70 percent of vaccinated Americans, nearly eight in 10 blame unvaccinated Americans for the latest wave of infections. Beyond faulting the unvaccinated, 36 percent of those who are vaccinated blame Donald Trump, 33 percent blame conservative media, and 30 percent blame people from other countries traveling to the United States. In other words, the vaccinated among us overwhelmingly blame Republicans, Trump, and right-wing media for erasing the gains made by the Biden administration's speedy vaccination program. That's exactly why Republicans are so desperate to recast Biden as responsible for the delta uptick.

Congressional Democrats are reportedly seeing something similar in their own polling, according to Washington Post's Greg Sargent. Internal polling by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has shown that "56 percent of likely voters in four dozen battleground districts have serious doubts about Republicans after hearing that they are spreading lies about vaccines to further conspiracy theories." The DCCC is now pushing its candidates to emphasize Republican disinformation on both the vaccine and the January 6 insurrection at their campaign events. In fact, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been offering a master class in how to highlight the radicalization of the Republican Party.

The vaccine message is also a natural for Democrats since the public widely trusts Democrats over Republicans on health care issues. The fact that Republicans are now trying flip public perception of GOP extremism on a public health issue is also telling—they simply cannot afford to chart a new course on the Jan. 6 insurrection, since many of their voters now support the terrorist siege and most adamantly believe the election was stolen from Trump.

But Republicans will have to stage a massive cover-up in order to retroactively recast themselves as part of the solution on taming COVID-19 spread. Rewriting history would be a cinch among Trump cultists and avid Fox News watchers. But the people Republicans need to convince of their rationality are actually rational people—those who still believe in facts and science and might be willing to vote Republican if the party wasn't overrun by extremists.

That's going to be a much tougher sell after congressional Republicans led the charge in sowing doubt and confusion about the vaccines. Republicans comparing the White House vaccination campaign to tactics used by the Nazis wasn't exactly helpful. Neither was Republicans smearing localized vaccination campaigns as "door-to-door" spying. Some Republicans hyped the idea that President Biden's vaccination effort was really a ploy to raid people's homes for their Bibles and guns.

As of mid-May, 100 percent of congressional Democrats reported being vaccinated while a meager 45 percent of House Republicans said they had gotten the shot. And last week, House Republicans spent much of the week railing against mask mandates in the lower chamber—even as their own caucus poses a primary threat to the health of everyone else in the Capitol.

Whatever whopper congressional Republicans and GOP governors are trying to sell now, they carried the mantle on hamstringing Biden's extraordinary vaccination push. Based on the polling, vaccinated Americans seem to both know that and resent it.

Republicans Encouraged Racist Assault On St. Louis Health Official

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

St. Louis County Health Director Faisal Khan wrote an op-ed Wednesday laying out the physical threats and racist slurs he was subjected to by a crowd of Donald Trump supporters enraged over new mask guidance in the county amid a surging outbreak of COVID-19.

Khan wrote for the Riverfront Times, in which he said Trump supporters at a Tuesday night meeting on the new mask rules mocked his accent, physically assaulted him, and hurled racist and vulgar insults such as "fat brown cunt" and "brown bastard."

And Khan accused Missouri GOP Senate hopeful Mark McCloskey — infamous for waving a gun at Black Lives Matter protesters in the summer of 2020 — of encouraging that behavior from the crowd.

Khan said he had never in his life "been subjected to the racist, xenophobic, and threatening behavior that greeted me in the County Council meeting," adding that McCloskey and GOP St. Louis City Councilman Tim Fitch encouraged the behavior.

"My time before the Council began with a dog-whistle question from Councilman Tim Fitch, who said he wanted to emphasize for the assembled crowd that I was not from this country," Khan wrote.

He later added, "I later saw that around the time that Mr. Fitch asked his question, his friend Mark McCloskey — who was seated right behind me and situated near Mr. Fitch's position on the dais — posted on social media that mask mandates are 'un-American.'"

"One cannot help but see the connection between the efforts of Mr. McCloskey and Mr. Fitch to stoke xenophobia against me," Khan wrote.

McCloskey is one of a number of GOP candidates running for Senate in Missouri to replace retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blunt.

Along with his wife, he shot to the public's attention after a photo was circulated in 2020 that showed him and his wife waving guns at BLM demonstrators in his upscale St. Louis gated community. McCloskey has since pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault for his actions.

As Republicans like McCloskey rage against new public health guidelines, Missouri is currently having one of the worst COVID outbreaks in the country.

Hospitalizations and deaths are surging in the state thanks to poor vaccination rates. Just 41% of the state is fully vaccinated, one of the worst vaccination rates in the country.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Mo Brooks Pays $25K To Trump Resort After Former Guy Endorses Senate Bid

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who is currently a candidate for Alabama's U.S. Senate seat, paid out over $25,000 to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort just days after receiving an endorsement from Trump.

Brooks is running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Richard Shelby, who has announced he will not run for reelection in 2022. The seat has been rated as "solid" for the Republican Party by multiple political ratings organizations.

On Thursday, in a federal campaign finance filing, Brooks' campaign disclosed that it had paid over $25,000 to Mar-a-Lago for catering and event space. Shelby held a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago on April 23 and Trump, who currently lives at the resort after losing the presidential election, was scheduled to be in attendance.

Just a few weeks before, on April 7, Trump endorsed Brooks over the three other Republican candidates who have already declared their candidacy.

"Few Republicans have as much COURAGE and FIGHT as Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks," Trump wrote in a statement, noting that the candidate "has my Complete and Total Endorsement."

Trump told Fox News on April 20 that Brooks would have "clear sailing" in his campaign for the seat and asserted he "just went up 41 points" even though no poll to support that claim has been released.

During his presidency, members of the Republican Party and businesses and governments seeking Trump's influence frequently spent money at his properties, with Trump businesses profiting throughout his term in office.

Brooks has deeply integrated the Trump endorsement into his campaign. On his official campaign Twitter account, Brooks refers to himself as "Mo Brooks – Endorsed by President Trump." The phrase "Endorsed by Trump" appears in the banner of the account as well, and the same language appears on Brooks' official campaign website and Facebook account.

Brooks has been under fire for a speech given on January 6 at a "Save America" rally protesting the outcome of the 2020 election. Before Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol, Brooks told the crowd to "stop at the Capitol" and that "today is the day that American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass."

Several members of Congress called for Brooks to be formally censured for inciting the crowd.

"Censure seems too trifling a punishment in this horrific case, but it's the minimal level of accountability Congressman Brooks should face from the same Congress he goaded rioters to assault," Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement in January.

Brooks is also being sued by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) for his role in the insurrection. Swalwell alleges that Brooks, along with Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, broke the law by inciting the riot.

Despite this criticism, Brooks recently spoke at CPAC in Dallas, Texas, on July 9 and told attendees, "Our choice is simple: We can surrender and submit, or we can fight back."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

GOP Candidate Violently Disrupts Rep. Porter’s Town Hall

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Nick Taurus, a Republican running for the seat in California's 45th Congressional District currently held by Democratic Rep. Katie Porter, was reportedly involved in what the Los Angeles Times called a "scuffle" at a town hall Porter held on Sunday in Irvine, California.

According to the Times' reporting, Taurus and a group of his supporters interrupted Porter with chants and shouting as she spoke, leading to physical confrontations between his supporters and hers that were broken up by police.

On July 8, Taurus had posted a call on his Instagram account for his supporters to cause disruption at the event. "CONFRONT KATIE PORTER!" Taurus wrote, adding, "Her America Last policies are awful for the 45th district and we intend to voice our displeasure."

"It is disappointing that a small but vocal group of attendees, who advertised a 'confrontation rally,' created unsafe conditions at a planned family-friendly event," Porter said in a statement after the event. "My team and I are evaluating next steps, but my promise to Orange County families is that I will continue to hold town halls and to be in conversation with them."

Porter won reelection in 2020 by seven percentage points over Republican Greg Raths.

Taurus, who filed official paperwork declaring his candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on June 15, says on his official campaign website, "Our Movement of 'Christ, Country, Community,' Starts in Orange County!"

"I am an American nationalist and Roman Catholic who is most concerned with addressing the issues surrounding immigration, vaccination and Critical Race Theory," the site reads.

A review of Taurus' social media posts reveals a history of homophobic, racist, and conspiracy theory-related rants.

"No longer will AMERICANS bow to the billionaires, anti-White extremists and the GAY mafia," he wrote on June 19.

On June 1, Taurus called LGBTQ Pride month "#GROSS."

Taurus defended widely condemned anti-LGBTQ laws in Hungary, writing on July 8, "For the simple crime of merely refusing drag queens the right to read to their children, the Hungarian nation faces the full ire of the Globalist American Empire." In the same post, he referred to "the CULTURE OF DEATH associated with the LGBT movement."

Referencing Caitlin Jenner's campaign for governor of California, Taurus wroteon April 26, "How could anyone that identifies as Christian or Conservative, vote for a h0m0sexu@l or tr@nny? Their very lifestyle is an affront to God."

Taurus has also praised white supremacist Nick Fuentes.

In the caption of a selfie with Fuentes he posted on June 30, Taurus wrote, "This guy is the truth and it was an absolute honor to meet him! AMERICA FIRST IS INEVITABLE!" The slogan "America First is inevitable" has been usedby Fuentes and his white supremacist allies as a rallying cry.

After former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on April 20 in the murder of George Floyd, Taurus unleashed a barrage of posts, writing, "Current mood following the Chauvin verdict. #JOKECOUNTRY #DEATHTOAMERICA."

"White America: GUILTY AS CHARGED! The Derek Chauvin trial was a farce. A joke. An absolute charade. The 'justice' system in this country is concerned with persecuting the enemies of their preferred pawns rather than ensuring law & order," he wrote in another post.

In a post using the hashtag "#CHAUVINDIDNOTHINGWRONG," Taurus wrote, "Black people are so oppressed in America that their families receive millions in settlement money despite using counterfeit bills & resisting arrest (George Floyd) or selling drugs and hiding bodies in their car (Breonna Taylor)."

Attacking the NFL for a statement in support of Chauvin's conviction, Fuentes wrote, "If you're White I'd highly suggest that you stop contributing to backdoor reparations otherwise known as American sports leagues."

The Republican candidate attacked the decision to make Juneteenth, which celebrates Black liberation from slavery, describing it as "summer Kwanzaa." Taurus posted in June, "July 4th, 1776. Original White Boy Summer."

On Independence Day, Taurus wrote, "George Washington forever, George Floyd never!"

Taurus also claimed in another post, "The level of violence perpetrated by Blacks in our inner cities on a normal day exceeds anything done by supposed 'White Supremacists.'"

Taurus has repeatedly praised and supported the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

He called in May for the immediate release of everyone involved in the attack, and also said, "Everything about January 6th was a lie. Everyone that was arrested is a political prisoner." He also described Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, who was shot by a Capitol Police officer as she attempted to break into the Capitol, as a "great veteran."

Taurus has also promoted conspiracy theories about the coronavirus and vaccines against COVID-19.

"COVID is fake and g@y," Taurus claimed. "If you get the vaccine you are a slave."

He described the vaccine as "the Mark of the Beast" and wrote, "Welcome to California where you can spread AIDS without repercussions but if you refuse an experimental vaccine, you're barred from society."

Taurus has posted anti-vaccination misinformation and alleged that the vaccines were part of a plot by pharmaceutical companies to kill people. In a post on May 19, he falsely claimed that as many people have died from COVID vaccines as have Americans fighting in the Iraq War.

The candidate referred to Donald Trump as "the last legitimate American President" and described him as "a man in the mold of Washington & Jackson, a true American hero." He added, "Standing back, standing by sir!" referring to Trump's direction to the extremist Proud Boys movement after he was asked to condemn them during a 2020 presidential debate.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

CPAC’s Insane Extremism Is A Warning For 2022

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Many Never Trump conservatives were hoping that when now-President Joe Biden won the 2020 election, Republicans would abandon Trumpism. Instead, they doubled down on it, and the recent 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas was a celebration of Trumpian extremism — from anti-vaxxer paranoia to the Big Lie about the 2020 election to praising the January 6 insurrectionists as heroic. According to liberal Washington Post opinion columnist Greg Sargent, CPAC 2021 should serve as a wake-up call for Democrats and encourage them to do everything imaginable to prevent a red wave in the 2022 midterms.

SargeNT explains, "Back in the dark ages of the last century, the right-wing culture war was often described with a reference to the three Gs: God, guns and gays. These days, the right-wing culture war is perhaps better described with three Vs: vaccine derangement, validation of White racial innocence, and valorization of insurrectionists. Over the weekend, the Conservative Political Action Conference treated the nation to a parade of such obsessions."

The lineup at CPAC 2021 in Dallas ranged from former President Donald Trump to Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas to a QAnon supporter: Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

"We were told the large percentage of Americans who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 is a cause for ecstatic celebration," Sargent notes. "We were told 'Marxist' Democrats want to indoctrinate your children to be ashamed of their whiteness. And, of course, we were told that the election was stolen from Donald Trump. This zombie lie was delivered to CPAC by the former president himself, who previewed this by telling Fox News that the January 6 rioters were 'peaceful people' and that they are this current moment's true victims of injustice. If there's one thing that all this lunacy confirmed, it's that such culture-warring will be central to GOP efforts in 2022."

Sargent notes that the 2010 and 2014 midterms — back when Barack Obama was president — far-right Republicans successfully used culture war fear-mongering to rally their base.

"Today's vaccine denial and valorization of insurrectionists carry serious echoes of the Tea Party during the Barack Obama presidency," Sargent recalls. "In 2010, protesters confronted Democratic lawmakers with vile slurs, and Republicans told endless lies about 'death panels.' In 2014, the GOP went all-in on the lie that Obama would allow terrorists to import Ebola across our border. Republicans were in no way penalized for any of this. Instead, they won two smashing midterm victories."

Sargent wraps up his column by urging Democrats to put Republicans "on the defensive" in the 2022 midterms.

"This might include asking anti-critical race theory Republicans why they think our cadets are such snowflakes that they must be shielded from hard truths about their country's past," Sargent writes. "Or asking why Republicans are doing far too little to encourage GOP voters to endure a little pinprick to protect their friends, relatives, and neighbors from dying of a deadly disease. Or why they're trying to bury the truth about their own party's complicity in an effort to sack the U.S. government with mob violence."

The columnist adds, "Ask yourself this: Why is it that Democrats spend far more time denying lies — that they want to indoctrinate your children with White shame and send jackbooted government thugs to kick down your doors and force vaccines on you — than Republicans spend denying any of those charges against them, which are true?"

Billionaire Linked To White Nationalists Backing GOP Senate Hopeful In Ohio

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance announced on Thursday that he would be running for the Republican nomination for Ohio's open U.S. Senate seat in 2022.

The seat is currently held by GOP Sen. Rob Portman, who is retiring. Vance is the seventh Republican to officially file for the election. Also currently running is serial failed Senate candidate Josh Mandel.

The seat is currently rated as "lean Republican" by the Cook Political Report, while Inside Elections says it is "solid" for the party.

In March, in advance of Vance's official campaign declaration, former Paypal executive and billionaire Peter Thiel donated $10 million to Protect Ohio Values, a super PAC supporting Vance's candidacy. On Wednesday, just before Vance's announcement, the PAC released a digital ad in support of his campaign, which they promoted in an "exclusive" for Fox News.

Over the last few years, Thiel has been a prominent voice within the Republican Party. He was one of the featured speakers at the Republican National Convention in 2016, expressing support for former President Donald Trump's campaign, and donated to him through several super PACs.

According to a 2020 Buzzfeed report, as part of his effort to back Trump, Thiel reportedly hosted a dinner with Kevin DeAnna, a prominent white nationalist who founded the far-right group Youth For Western Civilization, in July 2016.

In an email sent on July 16, 2016, Thiel reportedly told DeAnna, "Really enjoyed meeting you last night." The email also includes the suggestion that Thiel was interested in further meetings with the white supremacist. According to Buzzfeed, DeAnna responded to Thiel, writing, "It was a real honor meeting you and thanks for hosting all of us."

DeAnna, the outlet noted, has written in favor of creating a white "ethno-state" which he said is "the great dream of the White Republic" in a 2013 column.

DeAnna is also a proponent of the racist "great replacement" conspiracy theory, which claims that immigration to America from nonwhites is a plot to replace white people. Writing about the conspiracy on the white supremacist site VDARE in July 2019, DeAnna claimed, "Westerners must wake to this demographic tidal wave lest their culture, people and civilization be extinguished."

More recently, elements of the conspiracy have been voiced by Republicans in Congress.

Thiel has not commented publicly on his reported interactions with white nationalist figures.

In addition to Thiel, the far-right Mercer family has also reportedly donated to the pro-Vance super PAC.

Bryan Lanza, a spokesman for the PAC, told the Cincinnati Enquirer that Bob and Rebekah Mercer made a "significant contribution" to Protect Ohio Values.

The Mercers, who made their money from hedge funds, were also major donors to Trump's 2016 campaign. They helped to finance the right-wing outlet Breitbart, which has frequently trafficked in racism, sexism, and political smears.

Parler, the right-wing social network, was also financed by the Mercers, and Rebekah Mercer co-founded the company. The network was removed from the Apple app store in January after it became clear that some users had utilized it to organize the January 6 attack on the Capitol. It has since been restored.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.