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Trump under fire over white supremacist’s endorsement

Trump was asked Sunday on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ whether he rejected support from David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon

Published: Updated:

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump is drawing criticism for refusing to denounce an implicit endorsement from a white supremacist leader, with his main rivals, Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, using the matter to hammer the billionaire businessman just two days before multiple state primaries could put him on an irreversible path to the party’s nomination.

Trump was asked Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” whether he rejected support from David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon, and other white supremacists after Duke told his radio followers this week that a vote against Trump was equivalent to “treason to your heritage.”

“Well, just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke. OK?” Trump told host Jake Tapper. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.”

Trump was asked Friday by journalists how he felt about Duke’s support. He said he didn’t know anything about it and curtly said: “All right, I disavow, ok?”

Trump hasn’t always claimed ignorance on Duke’s history. In 2000, he wrote a New York Times op-ed explaining why he abandoned the possibility of running for president on the Reform Party ticket. He wrote of an “underside” and “fringe element” of the party, concluding, “I leave the Reform Party to David Duke, Pat Buchanan and Lenora Fulani. That is not company I wish to keep.”

Trump’s comments sparked a wave of censures just ahead of Super Tuesday - March 1 - when 11 states hold Republican primaries. At stake are 595 delegates to the party’s national convention this summer, with 1,237 needed to win the nomination.