Given the ascent of Donald Trump, whose arena-size angerfests are kind of like [Pat] Buchanan’s 1996 rally on steroids, was there ever any doubt?Pat Buchanan was savvy enough to know that though he might get away with coded, racist language to attract supporters, association with David Duke crossed a line that would not play well and would surely come back to bite.
Keying in Trump’s anti-outsider rallying cry to build a wall on the Mexican border and ban Muslims from entering the United States, Duke, who rarely misses an opportunity to emerge from obscurity and grab a headline, declared that white people who didn’t back Trump were committing “treason” to their “heritage.”
While Buchanan, a political communications pro by trade, knew just what to say in a similar situation, Trump has flailed and flopped all over the place. He first disavowed Duke’s support, then on Sunday reversed himself during a genuinely shocking ABC News interview.David Duke? I never heard of the guy. OK, Mr Trump, you'd have to be living in a cave cut off from all communication not to have heard of Duke, the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
“Well, just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK?” Trump said. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.” (My emphasis)
After a day of denunciations from the press and rival Republican candidates, Trump backtracked again, claiming that he hadn’t heard the question despite the specificity of his answer. (My emphasis)And there it is - Trump's denial that is quite obviously not true, because he repeated Duke's name. Tomorrow is primary election day in Louisiana. Only registered Democrats and Republicans are allowed to vote for their candidate of choice in each party. My guess is that Trump's botched response to the endorsement of Duke will make little difference in his totals in Louisiana. His performance in the Republican debate last night, which I thought was his worst, may affect the vote - or not. Thus far, Trump's die-hard supporters have remained unaffected by reports of his stumbles, misspeaking, and denials of statements that are on record.