Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater accepted an invitation to visit an American military installation located in Bavaria, Germany. On "CBS Evening News" hosted by Walter Cronkite, correspondent Daniel Schorr said: "It is now clear that Sen. Goldwater's interview with Der Spiegel, with its hard line appealing to right-wing elements in Germany, was only the start of a move to link up with his opposite numbers in Germany." The reaction shot -- when the cameras returned to Cronkite -- showed the "most trusted man in America" gravely shaking his head.
Or maybe it began when Goldwater accepted the Republican nomination, and Democratic California Gov. Pat Brown said the "stench of fascism is in the air."
Or maybe the Republicans-as-fascists narrative really jump-started during the 1968 presidential campaign. For commentary at the political conventions that year, ABC hired left-wing pundit Gore Vidal and matched him with conservative pundit William F. Buckley. If the network was looking for fireworks, they were not disappointed. Quarreling with Buckley over the impact of anti-Vietnam War dissidents, Gore called Buckley a "crypto-Nazi." Incensed, Buckley fired back: "Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi, or I'll sock you in your goddamn face and you'll stay plastered."
More recently, former Vice President Al Gore said: "(George W. Bush's) executive branch has made it a practice to try and control and intimidate news organizations, from PBS to CBS to Newsweek. ... And every day, they unleash squadrons of digital brownshirts to harass and hector any journalist who is critical of the president."
Entertainer and liberal activist Harry Belafonte, when asked whether the number and prominence of blacks in the Bush administration suggested a lack of racism, said, "Hitler had a lot of Jews high up in the hierarchy of the Third Reich."
Then-NAACP Chairman Julian Bond pulled out the Nazi card in 2004 while criticizing congressional Republicans and the White House: "They preach racial equality but practice racial division. ... Their idea of equal rights is the American flag and Confederate swastika flying side by side."
Bond later clarified whom he meant by "they." Speaking at historically black Fayetteville State University in North Carolina in 2006, Bond said, "The Republican Party would have the American flag and the swastika flying side by side."