PHOENIX - An Arizona lawmaker struggled to answer if he was a white nationalist at a press conference Wednesday where he was expected to apologize for his comment on immigration representing "an existential threat" to the country.
David Stringer, a first-term Republican from Yavapai County, held a press conference Wednesday with Rev. Jarret Maupin after a video of Stringer’s remarks began circulating on social media two weeks ago.
At the press conference, 12 News' Brahm Resnik asked Stringer several questions, but one seemed to particularly stump him: Are you a white nationalist?
In a nearly three-minute back-and-forth, Stringer starts off by saying that he suspects the phrase "white nationalist" is used in "many different contexts."
Merriam-Webster defines a white nationalist as:
"One of a group of militant whites who espouse white supremacy and advocate enforced racial segregation who espouse white supremacy and advocate enforced racial segregation."
Resnik, and other reporters, immediately clarified it is used in only one context and asked him again to answer the question with a yes or no response.
Stringer continued to argue that the term has different meanings and that he is not a white nationalist, as far as he understands the term. He expanded on what that meant by saying he understands white nationalists are connected ot the alt-right movement and that he has had no association with that movement or any extremist group in his career.
Resnik assured him that no one was questioning which groups he's worked with and that the question was aimed at something he said. Executive Director of Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting Jim Small said a prominent Republican player told him Stringer said, point blank, that he was a white nationalist just last month.
Stringer denied ever saying he is a white nationalist and continued to say there is no evidence in his background to prove that he is.
In the 51-second clip from the public forum earlier this month, Stringer is seen saying, "If we don’t do something about immigration very, very soon the demographics of our country will be irrevocably changed and we will be a very different country. It will not be the country we were born in."
Resnik asked Stringer one last time, searching for the yes or no answer.
"I think you keep asking the question because you don't like the answer," Stringer responded.
He added that he answered the question as clearly as he could.
Rev. Maupin stepped in at this point to remind Stringer that it is a yes-or-no question and asked the lawmaker himself if he is a white nationalist.
"I want to emphatically say that I am not a white nationalist," Stringer answered Maupin's question.
The northern Arizona representative also touted that he hasn't introduced legislation regarding immigration in his two years in the Legislature.
Wednesday's press conference was held, or at least promoted, as a way for Stringer to apologize for his comments on immigration that were recorded earlier this month. Instead of apologizing for his comments, Stringer apologized for saying things that were allowed to be misrepresented to the community and, in turn, offend people.