Just last week, Donald Trump labeled himself “Mr. Brexit.” As monikers go, this is an odd choice: the Republican presidential candidate has never made clear that he understands what Brexit even is. The day before British voters cast their ballots, Trump said of the issue, “I don’t think anybody should listen to me because I haven’t really focused on it very much.”
After the UK referendum, the Republican’s rhetoric on Brexit became even more bizarre.
Two months later, however, the self-proclaimed Mr. Brexit has decided to campaign alongside a man who arguably earned the title. NBC News reported overnight:
The Republican candidate, whose stop in deep red Mississippi at this point in the general election raised eyebrows and stirred confusion, surprised the crowd when he brought on stage with him a physical embodiment of his Brexit message: Britain’s Nigel Farage.The Brit, who was a heavy and vocal “leave” backer during Brexit, attacked former British PM David Cameron for paying “the big card” of bringing President Obama to speak about the Brexit decision. As Trump has done in the past, Farage criticized Obama, adding that he “could not possibly tell you how you should vote in this election.”
Farage, however, believes he can you how you should vote in this election, saying he wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, if he were an American, even if paid to do so.
Now, the obvious concern about a rally such as this one in Mississippi are the divisive overtones: For those unfamiliar with his work, Farage is one of Britain’s most notorious xenophobes. He’s known for his role in the Brexit campaign, but Farage also led the UK Independence Party, which has frequently been criticized for its nativist, racially charged platform.
For all the chatter about Trump’s “pivot,” his willingness to appear alongside Nigel Farage sends an unmistakable signal.
But just below the surface, I have a related question: when was the last time a Republican presidential candidate hit the campaign trail with a foreign political figure?
If Hillary Clinton held a campaign rally with a controversial figure from across the pond, wouldn’t Republicans have some concerns?
Postscript: The day before the Mississippi event, Trump campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks said she “highly doubt[ed]” Trump and Farage would make a joint appearance. Sometimes with Team Trump, the right hand doesn’t know what the even-further-to-the-right hand is up to.