As if provoking a negative response from Pope Francis weren’t enough for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, he now has won a positive at-a-boy from well-known white nationalist and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
Duke on his radio show Wednesday, encouraged his listeners to vote for Trump, saying a vote against the New York billionaire was “really treason to your heritage.” Duke is a former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and former Grand Wizard of the KKK. He unsuccessfully ran for governor or Louisiana in 1991.
On Sadie Hawkins Day, a pseudo-Leap Year holiday that originated in Al Capp’s classic hillbilly comic strip “Li’l Abner,” (1934 to 1978), Trump finally was quoted in several news articles disavowing Duke’s support. Duke is not the kind of suitor that Trump wants.
But Trump also blamed his earlier hesitancy, though given many opportunities, on a “very bad earpiece,” which he was given to use in Florida during a telephone interview CNN host Jake Tapper.
Trump over the weekend was heavily criticized by other GOP presidential contenders for not immediately denouncing Duke’s support. Duke called Trump “by far the best candidate.”
And it’s no wonder that Duke would speak well of Trump. The top winner in most of the GOP state contests for president so far has openly said he would register American Muslims and bar others of the Islamic faith from entering the U.S. He also has said derogatory things about women and people with disabilities.
Trump has called for building a wall on the Mexican border and having Mexico pay for it. The wall is to keep out undocumented Mexican immigrants, whom Trump has labeled rapists and murderers.
That caused Pope Francis earlier this month just hours after ending a visit to Mexico to take the highly unusual step of commenting on America’s presidential race. Keep in mind that when then-Sen. John Kennedy ran for president in 1960 the anti-Catholic prejudice in the United States was so intense that people actually feared that Kennedy as a Catholic would take orders from the Vatican if he were elected to the Oval Office.
That turned out to be far from the truth, however, it became a campaign issue in one of the closest votes for president in U.S. history.
The pope, however, threw aside America’s history just as he did in getting Cuba and the United States in December 2014 to begin talks to restore diplomatic ties, which were severed after the successful Fidel Castro communist revolution in Cuba more than 50 years ago when Kennedy was in the White House.
About Trump, the pope said: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.” Pope Francis added that he would “give the benefit of the doubt” to Trump because he had not independently heard Trump's border plans. But the pope also said, “I say only that this man is not a Christian if he has said things like that.”
Trump, a Presbyterian, criticized the pope ahead of the Feb. 20 GOP primary in South Carolina, saying, “For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful.”
The pope’s comments didn’t hurt Trump, who easily won the primary in South Carolina and is favored to continue his winning streak into Super Tuesday and other presidential contests in March.
But it is no wonder that Duke and people like him gravitate toward Trump, who has made it OK again in the U.S. for people to openly express their hatred for minorities and people without money and power.
Duke has not formally endorsed Trump, however, he enlarged his support of Trump in a Facebook post: “I think he deserves a close look by those who believe the era of political correctness needs to come to an end.” Duke called on a leader who would take apart the “Jewish controlled” financial industry.
Duke’s Facebook page is filled with dozens of news stories from throughout the world about Trump and the latest controversy.
Duke’s favorable comments about Trump are unlikely to deflate Trump’s campaign. Nothing else has stuck to Teflon Don or caused him to continue to defy political gravity.
But what the Duke controversy has done is give a lot of attention to the mostly dormant former KKK leader. Hate groups feed on that kind of notoriety.