“Hi, this is David Duke.”
This is the automatic recording many Louisiana voters heard when they picked up their phone in recent days.
Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, is running for the U.S. Senate in the state and would like to make sure his voters also support Donald Trump for president. “It’s time to stand up and vote for Donald Trump for president and vote for me, David Duke for the U.S. Senate,” he said in his robocall, first reported by Buzzfeed.
This isn’t the first time the white supremacist has publicly endorsed Trump and called on his followers to vote for the Republican nominee. Duke expressed excitement over Trump’s run for presidency and and when announcing his candidacy for the Senate, Duke stated he was “overjoyed to see Donald Trump and most Americans embrace most of the issues I’ve championed for years.”
In the robocall, Duke, whose anti-Semitic rhetoric and Holocaust denial have been widely denounced by major human rights organizations, echoed some of the themes Trump has raised in his campaign, including limitations on immigration to America and on trade deals. “We’re losing our gun rights, our free speech. We’re taxed to death. We’re losing our jobs and businesses to unfair trade,” Duke said. “We’re losing our country. Look at the Super Bowl salute to the Black Panther cop killers.”
Trump, who during the early stages of the campaign refused to condemn Duke, arguing that he did not “know anything about David Duke,” later moved to distance himself, at least in public statements, from the white supremacist. In response to the recent robocall, the Trump campaign told Politico that “Mr. Trump has continued to denounce David Duke and any group or individual associated with a message of hate.” Trump’s campaign added that it has “no knowledge of these calls or any related activities, but strongly condemn and disavow.”
Trump has come under pressure in recent days from the Clinton campaign which highlighted the support he was getting from white supremacists, racists and alt-right activists. Over the weekend, Trump shot back at Clinton, noting her praise for the late West Virginia senator Robert Byrd who was a former KKK member. Byrd was a local klan leader in the 1940s, but in his later years called his involvement with the group “the greatest mistake of my life” and apologized to President Obama for his KKK activism.
Nathan Guttman staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Ha’aretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Contact Nathan at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @nathanguttman