Conservatives Defend Trump Over KKK Dodge

Mark Cornelison/ZUMA

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Last Sunday, Donald Trump declined to disavow David Duke, a white supremacist and former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who asked his supporters to back Trump for president. The next day, Trump blamed his response on a bad earpiece garbling the question. It wasn’t until Thursday morning that he finally came around to condemning Duke. By then, the media and Trump’s GOP rivals had spent five days attacking Trump over the issue and hand-wringing about the state of the Republican Party. “So is this how the party of Abraham Lincoln dies?” asked Joe Scarborough, the conservative co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

But the fact that it took Trump days to condemn a white supremacist didn’t faze many Republican voters at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual conservative gathering just outside of Washington, DC.

“Ridiculous,” said Sharon Begosh, 54, of Maryland, when asked about the furor over Trump’s response to the David Duke question last week. She’s pretty sure Trump didn’t hear the question correctly. “There’s not a racist bone in his body,” she said.

Begosh, who is supporting Cruz, said the Duke controversy is an example of people playing the “race card” when they have nothing else on their political opponents.

“The Ku Klux Klan won’t rise again,” said Grace Hagerty, 83, of Virginia, who voted for Trump on Super Tuesday.

While pundits have pointed to Trump’s KKK dodge as evidence that the Republican front-runner is riling up racist elements in the party, CPAC attendees saw it differently. One of the most common responses to questions about the Duke issue was that politicians simply are not responsible for who their supporters are or what they believe.

“I don’t think you can control who your supporters are,” said Nestor Riano, 53, of Minnesota.

Brian Bledsoe, 35, of Texas echoed that sentiment. “Can’t blame the candidate about who’s supporting him,” he said.

 

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate