Former Ku Klux Klan head David Duke praised Trump’s running mate for failing to call him “deplorable” during a CNN interview on Monday.
Duke, who has been so emboldened by Trump’s bigoted campaign that he is now running for a senate seat in Louisiana, was euphoric over Pence’s failure to denounce him.
“It’s good to see an individual like Pence and others start to reject this absolute controlled media,” Duke told BuzzFeed News. “The truth is that the Republican Party in Louisiana — I received the vast majority of Republican votes for United States senator before and for governor before that in my state. The truth is the Republican Party is big tent. I served in the Republican caucus. I was in the Republican caucus in the legislature. I had a perfect Republican voting record. It’s ridiculous that they attack me because of my involvement in that nonviolent Klan four decades ago.”
Speaking with Wolf Blitzer, Mike Pence refused to lump the ex-grand dragon of the KKK into the now notorious “basket of deplorables.” When the CNN host asked him if he would consider Duke to be “deplorable,” the Republican vice-presidential candidate chose not to condemn the white supremacist and instead said only that he would not stoop to “name-calling.”
Hillary Clinton was the first to condemn Pence for his refusal to label Duke as what he is: “deplorable.”
“If you won’t say the KKK is deplorable, you have no business running the country,” tweeted the Democratic nominee.
It seems Trump chose the perfect running mate, as he himself failed to disavow Duke earlier in his campaign. He eventually gave a half-assed condemnation of the former head of the KKK, but he has been careful not to alienate his alt-right base. Even when Trump (or now Pence) does denounce white supremacism, it is obvious that they are tiptoeing around the issue because they know these bigots make up the majority of their supporters. Their plan is to show just enough disapproval to still be able to scream that they aren’t racist, but they still dog whistle to the white supremacists to keep them on board. And judging by Duke’s response, it is working like a charm.
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