President Donald Trump’s pick to represent Minnesota in the U.S. Senate, the former GOP Rep. Jason Lewis, once used his radio show to proclaim “White Lives Matter” while pushing an argument about gun violence used by white supremacists, according to audio obtained and reviewed by HuffPost.
Lewis was elected to serve one term in Minnesota in 2016 before voters gave him the boot in the 2018 midterms. Now, Trump wants him to help turn the blue state red in 2020.
The former congressman’s history of controversial comments is well-known ― he hosted “The Jason Lewis Show” on a Minnesota radio station for several years and once alleged that Jewish Americans have a “dual loyalty” to America and Israel, although that will not stop the chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, from hosting a Lewis fundraiser alongside Donald Trump Jr. later this month.
Lewis’ Aug. 29, 2015, musings on race have not yet been widely reported, however.
“We are still stuck in this narrative that the only crime that happens is white people killing Black people,” Lewis said on the show, referring to the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality and discrimination. Just two months previously, a young white supremacist opened fire on a Black church in South Carolina, killing nine people.
Lewis continued: “Wouldn’t it be nice for a little truth and honesty in all of this? Wouldn’t it be nice if somebody could stand up and say, ‘All Lives Matter’? Until they do, maybe it’s time somebody said, ‘White Lives Matter.’”
Both “All Lives Matter” and “White Lives Matter” emerged as responses to Black Lives Matter. While the former serves to erase the social justice concerns of Black Lives Matter, the latter is categorized by Southern Poverty Law Center as a neo-Nazi hate group.
Lewis’ campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lewis then incorrectly claimed that white people are disproportionately killed by Black people, an argument relying on false information that is commonly used by white supremacists, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. In November 2015, Trump himself tweeted similarly misleading statistics about deadly crime between Black and white people. Crime trends observed over decades indicate that people typically tend to kill within their own race.
In the same show, Lewis went off on “the real problem” with race in America: People having children without getting married first.
“The problem in the Black community is the gangsta culture. The problem in the Black community, in all ethnic communities, and in poor white communities is out-of-wedlock birth rates,” he said.
Other recordings obtained by HuffPost reveal how Lewis once compared Martin Luther King Jr. to Cliven Bundy, the white farmer who engaged in an armed standoff with the government over cattle-grazing fees he accrued over decades and refused to pay.
In April 2015, Lewis said he respected how King was “willing to take the punishment” for his civil disobedience. But he also saw bizarre parallels between the civil rights icon and how Bundy held an armed standoff to make a point ― putting cattle-grazing fees on the same level as discrimination based on race.
In July 2015, Lewis argued that rich people were paying too much in taxes compared to those at the bottom of the income scale. Making another bizarre analogy, this time between tax brackets and enslavement, he said: “We used to call this slavery when we did it by race. Now we do it by economics, so I guess it’s OK.”
It’s one point Lewis has apparently been harping on for years. In 2008, while filling in as a host on the Rush Limbaugh show, Lewis said, “during the times of slavery, we targeted Black folks. Well, now I guess it’s OK to target wealthy folks. Either way, you’re taking something that doesn’t belong to you.”
Lewis is currently one of five Republican candidates running to unseat incumbent Tina Smith, a Democrat. The state’s Senate primary will take place on Aug. 11.