Donald Trump’s camp has tried to distance itself recently from various white nationalist leaders and groups who have enthusiastically pledged their support for the Republican presidential nominee. But in the end, in some strange twist of largely meaningless yet notable fate, Trump’s name appeared directly beside David Duke’s, the former KKK leader and current candidate for U.S. Senate in Louisiana.
For some voters, it may be an eerie reminder of Trump’s controversial record on race.
For others, the pairing will amount to little more than a quirk of the Louisiana ballot.
Duke has been in a thorn in Trump’s side throughout the campaign — one that Trump at times appeared unwilling to remove or wholeheartedly acknowledge.
That appeared to be the case when Trump refused to “unequivocally condemn” Duke and other white supremacists during a now famous exchange with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Trump has repeatedly disavowed Duke in subsequent exchanges with journalists, but white nationalists have continued to pledge their support nonetheless.
After news broke that a Ku Klux Klan newspaper had effectively endorsed Trump, the campaign released a sharply worded statement, saying: “Mr. Trump and the campaign denounces hate in any form. This publication is repulsive and their views do not represent the tens of millions of Americans who are uniting behind our campaign.”
Last week, Trump’s son Eric went a step further and said that former KKK grand wizard Duke “does deserve a bullet” during a radio interview.
“If I said exactly what you said, I’d get killed for it,” Eric Trump told Denver radio host Ross Kaminsky on 630 KHOW. “But I think I’ll say it anyway: The guy does deserve a bullet. I mean, these aren’t good people, these are horrible people. In fact, I commend my father. My father’s the first Republican who’s gone out and said, ‘Listen, what’s happened to the African American community is horrible, and I’m going to take care of it.’ ”
A recent Southern Media & Opinion Research poll found that Duke had the support of about 3 percent of likely voters, according to the Times-Picayune.