After a few days of bad press, Donald Trump in February disavowed the support of white supremacist David Duke. But eight months after getting dumped by Trump, Duke just won’t quit on the controversial Republican nominee and his “Make America Great Again” mantra.
“Thank God Trump has emerged and embraced my issues,” wrote Duke in campaign direct mail procured by Talking Points Memo, sent to thousands of homes in Louisiana earlier this month. The former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard is this year mounting a quixotic run for the United States Senate.
Duke hopes to be elected on the coattails of Trump and the ‘alt-right,’ a far right faction of the Republican Party that wants America to remain majority-white and that has gained attention thanks to Trump’s campaign.
Duke, the ad stated, shares with Trump a commitment to “stopping immigration, fair trade not free trade, and America First.” The letter went on to proclaim: “The exclamation heard all over Louisiana: I am voting for Trump and Duke.”
Even before Trump’s rise, Duke loomed as one of the heads of the ‘alt-right,’ pushing a white supremacist ideology for more than three decades. Branching out from his early activities with the Klan, he has become a Holocaust denier, anti-Semite, and racist of international note.
Duke has run state and federal office from Louisiana a dozen times, losing each contest, except in 1989 when he won a special election to a seat in the state’s House of Representatives.
Back in February, Trump was asked in a CNN interview whether he would renounce Duke’s support. He responded equivocally, saying, “I don’t know anything about David Duke. OK? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So, I don’t know.”
That stoked consternation and anger from Trump partisans and enemies. He then disavowed the white supremacist, and claimed that he had done so before, blaming the mixup on a bad earpiece. “We had a news conference and they asked me the exact same question. I said I disavow,” he said
Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.