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President Trump demanded Monday an apology from Bubba Wallace, NASCAR's only Black driver, after the FBI determined last month that he was not a target of a hate crime when a noose was found in his garage stall before a race.

Why it matters: The president's focus on kicking off a culture war is set to be a cornerstone of his 2020 campaign, often hinging on his opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement. As Axios' Jonathan Swan told the "Axios Today" podcast, "The ugly reality of this election is that, in some instances, it's going to look like a race war."

What he's saying: "Has @BubbaWallace apologized to all of those great NASCAR drivers & officials who came to his aid, stood by his side, & were willing to sacrifice everything for him, only to find out that the whole thing was just another HOAX? That & Flag decision has caused lowest ratings EVER!" Trump tweeted.

Reality check: Wallace's initial claim was not a "HOAX," as the president described.

  • Wallace was not the one who found the noose in the garage and did not report it, per an AL.com timeline of events.
  • While the FBI determined that the noose had been in place as a garage pull rope in a Talladega garage since October 2019 and thus was not intended for Wallace, NASCAR's president confirmed that it "was real" and that it moved quickly to launch an investigation in order to "protect" its driver.

The big picture: The incident came just after NASCAR banned the display of the Confederate flag at all of its events and properties.

Go deeper

Chris Wallace to Fox News viewers: "Wear the damn mask"

Chris Wallace directs the first presidential debate. Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor who moderated Tuesday's presidential debate, urged the network's viewers on Friday to "wear the damn mask."

Why it matters: Fox News, particularly the network's opinions hosts, has been accused of spreading coronavirus misinformation, which one study suggested may have kept millions of Americans from taking the pandemic seriously.

Trump's Proud Boys moment dominated debate conversation

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump's refusal to take Chris Wallace's prompt to condemn white supremacy during Tuesday's debate and his "stand back and stand by" comment about the Proud Boys became the No. 1 storyline from the debate online, according to exclusive data from NewsWhip.

Why it matters: The post-debate response put Trump — not Joe Biden — on the defensive, and allowed the former vice president to dodge blowback from his own shortcomings in the debate.

Scoop: Stephanie Murphy announcing challenge to Marco Rubio

Rep. Stephanie Murphy. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy is planning to announce a campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in early June, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Murphy is a proven fundraiser. Jumping in now would give her an early start to build her case for the Democratic nomination and potentially force Rubio and allied GOP groups to spend heavily to retain a seat in a state that’s trending Republican.