WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- On Saturday evening, an Arlington-based think tank called the National Policy Institute plans to hold its annual conference in the rotunda of the Reagan building in D.C., with around 150 attendees expected.
The topic of the conference will be the Republican presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump.
But the NPI isn’t just any think tank. The Southern Poverty Law Center considers its president Richard Spencer to be one of the “most successful young white nationalist leaders” in the country today.
The NPI’s website says the group is “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States.”
In Trump, Spencer sees a figure “energizing” the white nationalist movement. So on Saturday, conference attendees will enjoy cocktails, dinner, desert, and three speakers praising and parsing the “Trump phenomenon.”
“He’s fighting for us. He’s saying we’re going to be great again. We’re going to win again. And there’s this implicit identity to this. There’s this implicit nationalism,” Spencer said in an interview Wednesday. “I think he’s evoking a lot of feelings amongst people, and I think implicit in what Donald Trump is doing is a conception of America as a European country.”
Trump and his campaign are not affiliated with the Saturday conference in any way. His campaign did not respond to repeated requests for comment on it on Wedneday.
Spencer explained that he doesn’t actually think Trump is a racially conscious at all.
“I think a lot of older Americans they are implicitly white. When they think of America it’s a white country,” Spencer said.
Trump’s campaign has been dogged by allegations of both overt and subtle racism even as he has risen to the top of the Republican pack. On Sunday, he drew criticism for not immediately disavowing the support of former KKK leader David Duke during an interview on CNN. When Trump repeatedly disavowed Duke and other white nationalist groups later in the week, Spencer was unbothered.
“He never said ‘I condemn this.’ He never said any of that. He said I disavow. And I think that’s what he should say. The fact is Donald Trump is Donald Trump. He does not need to answer for David Duke,” Spencer said. “He doesn’t need to answer for me or anyone.”
While Spencer plans to vote for Trump, his organization will not endorse him. As a 501c3 it can’t legally do so, but Spencer also said he knows his endorsement would likely only hurt his preferred candidate.
“We’re not really helping politicians by making endorsements. So I think actually we should distance ourselves from Donald Trump in that sense,” Spencer said.