Bubba Wallace became the face of NASCAR when he called for the racing league to ban the use of confederate flags at its races in the wake of police brutality against Black people.
Shortly after, reports emerged of a noose found in his garage at Talladega Superspeedway. The incident led to Wallace's fellow drivers and numerous other NASCAR workers publicly rallying around him in solidarity and support.
Wallace—NASCAR's only Black driver—was not the one to find, nor report the noose, yet he faced backlash when reports emerged that it was a pull for the garage door.
Every black person in America would understand this as a noose if it was randomly hung from their garage door. The… https://t.co/LLrMJZAtRV— Matt Rogers 🎙️ (@Matt Rogers 🎙️)1594042123.0
Wallace said he was "relieved" that an investigation found no malicious intent.
That wasn't enough for President Donald Trump, who continued a worsening incitement of racial unrest by demanding that Wallace apologize. He also criticized NASCAR's banning of the confederate battle flag.
Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his sid… https://t.co/XGPapgYIAA— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1594038787.0
The tweet was met with immediate backlash—some of it from unlikely sources.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)—one of Donald Trump's most devoted supporters—took a surprising stance against the President's tweet.
In an appearance on the radio show of Fox & Friends cohost Brian Kilmeade, Graham said:
" Well, I don't think Bubba Wallace has anything to apologize for. I do say this about the drivers: Even though it was a noose created to hold the door open, in the times in which we live, there's a lot of anxiety. So, what did you see? You saw the best in NASCAR. When there was a chance that it was a threat against Bubba Wallace, they all rallied to Bubba's side. So, I would be looking to celebrate that kind of attitude more than being worried about it being a hoax."
When it came to NASCAR banning the confederate battle flag for its glorification of slavery, Graham said:
"They're trying to grow the sport. If you're in business, the Confederate flag is not a good way to grow your business."
In the 2016 campaign, Graham was a vocal critic of the President—and he was much more critical of the President's views on race. in a 2015 appearance on CNN, Graham called Trump a "race-baiting xenophobic bigot."
He was far from the only one to rebuke Trump for the tweet.
In a now-deleted tweet, NASCAR driver Tyler Reddick responded to the President:
"We don't need an apology. We did what was right and we will do just fine without your support"
People soon began fact checking the President's claim.
@realDonaldTrump @BubbaWallace It was not a hoax. The NASCAR president reported it and NASCAR posted the photo of t… https://t.co/QzayfTQFzP— Keith Boykin (@Keith Boykin)1594042231.0
Jokes are funny guys but comparing Bubba Wallace to Jussie Smollett is completely oblivious to the circumstances.… https://t.co/Qm0ECkVXbC— Matt Glantz (@Matt Glantz)1593004469.0
So, @BubbaWallace didn’t report the noose, never even saw the noose. NASCAR President Steve Phelps informed Bubba a… https://t.co/vcgCP9hczg— Dianne Gallagher (@Dianne Gallagher)1594040950.0
@realDonaldTrump @BubbaWallace How low and despicable for the President of the United States to falsely accuse Bubb… https://t.co/I9WcrzrUu7— Eugene Gu, MD (@Eugene Gu, MD)1594039195.0
They condemned the racist rhetoric in Trump's tweet.
Shorter: Trump is a racist. https://t.co/EytBF8OBxk— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@Ana Navarro-Cárdenas)1594051813.0
Trump attacks driver Bubba Wallace and demands he apologize to all other NASCAR drivers. Why because someone else… https://t.co/TtrRmRSpkl— Bryan Behar (@Bryan Behar)1594054272.0
Donald Trump is a racist. That’s it. That’s the whole tweet. Just can’t say it enough.— Charles M. Blow (@Charles M. Blow)1594045595.0
Many thought Trump should be the one to apologize.
@realDonaldTrump @BubbaWallace Has Donald trump apologized to any of the families of 130,000 people who died unnece… https://t.co/jDh3JXTud9— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@BrooklynDad_Defiant!)1594039310.0
@realDonaldTrump @BubbaWallace Have you apologized to @Kaepernick7 for being an unconstitutional racist asshole?— David Weissman (@David Weissman)1594038920.0
Has trump apologize to the central park five? Has trump apologized for conspiring with Russia and Ukraine? Has… https://t.co/0fWSN13Joi— Howard ✡ (@Howard ✡)1594054164.0
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that Trump was trying to criticize "rush to judgment before all the facts are out."
Nascar has responded to Trump's tweet.
NASCAR issues a statement after Trump tweet: https://t.co/Sq70SWl0aW— Jeff Gluck (@Jeff Gluck)1594063085.0