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Scarborough: Trump's 'Distressing' Klan Answer Raises 'Disturbing Questions'

(MSNBC/"Morning Joe")

By    |   Monday, 29 February 2016 08:55 AM

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough slammed Donald Trump's "distressing performance" on CNN in which he refused to disavow the Ku Klux Klan and its Grand Wizard David Duke and says the Sunday interview raises "disturbing questions" about the GOP front-runner.

"Sunday's distressing performance is just the latest in a string of incidents that suggest to critics that Donald Trump is using bigotry to fuel his controversial campaign," Scarborough wrote in an op-ed piece in The Washington Post. "The most explicit of all examples was his December proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Mika Brzezinski, my 'Morning Joe' co-host, called that political promise 'frightening' and our debate with Trump got so heated that I eventually hung up on the candidate during the interview."

Scarborough wrote that Trump's "feigned ignorance" of the Klan and of Duke, whom he has referenced in the past, is head-scratching, "when telling the ugly truth wouldn't have cost him a single vote."

Trump insisted in an NBC interview Monday that he's already disavowed former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, and blamed his answers to CNN Sunday about the white supremacist on a "lousy earpiece" provided by that network.

"First of all, he talked about David Duke and other groups," the New York real estate mogul and presidential candidate told NBC's Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer on the "Today" show.

"I'm sitting in a house with a bad earpiece they gave me. You can hardly hear what he was saying. What I heard was various groups."

"You said three times, 'I don't know who David Duke is,'" Guthrie told Trump of his interview with Tapper.

"Excuse me, no, no," Trump responded. "I know who he is, but I never met David Duke. When you talk about it, I never met David Duke. I refused to run on the reform party's platform because Duke was a member of it."

Further, he told Guthrie and Lauer, that he could "hardly hear" what Tapper was saying.

"What I heard was various groups," Trump said. "I don't mind disavowing anybody. I disavowed David Duke and disavowed him the day before at a major news conference, which is surprising because he [Tapper] was at the major news conference.

"CNN was at the major news conference and they heard me easily disavow David Duke. Now I have a lousy earpiece provided by them. Frankly, he talked about groups. I have no problem with disavowing groups, but I'd like to know who they are. It'd be unfair to disavow a group if they shouldn't be disavowed."

But, Trump pointed out that he disavowed Duke "all weekend long" on Facebook and Twitter, and "obviously it's never enough."

Meanwhile, Trump called for the party to get behind him in the primaries.

"We're opening up the Republican Party," Trump said. "When I won in South Carolina, we got far more votes than the Democrats got. If you look at our votes verses the Democrats, we got more votes.

"More votes than we got four years ago. We're opening up the party. Democrats are calling in."

Duke has not formally endorsed Trump, but last week said voting against him "is really treason to your heritage."

On Scarborough's MSNBC "Morning Joe" program, the host and other pundits slammed Trump's answers.

"I think he's ignorant of how southern voters think," said Scarborough, who was born in Georgia and eventually became a U.S. Representative from Florida.

"I think he's a guy from Queens and he's just thinking, 'Okay, listen, I better not knock these people' . . . I think he is just as condescending as a lot of people from the North I have that met about the South."

Scarborough called on Trump to "clean it up" before he goes to the polls on Super Tuesday.

"It’s breathtaking. That is disqualifying right there. To say you don’t know about the Ku Klux Klan? You don’t know about David Duke?" Scarborough said on his show.

"Clean it up and let Southerners know, Donald that you understand that they live in the new South, it's been the new South for 50 years and that's not the way southerners think anymore," he added.

"I can tell you as much as anybody, I know politics in the deep south. I know those voters who are voting for Donald Trump and most of those voters that are voting for Donald Trump, at least in my area, voted for me four times.

"And I can tell you he doesn't gain a single vote in those four states by being ambiguous about the legacy [of the Klan.]"

Further, Scarborough said he wants to know how Trump on Friday said he disavowed Duke, but two days later said he didn't know about Duke enough to disavow him.

John McCormack, senior writer for The Weekly Standard, said on the show that if Trump backs down, Trump would risk undercutting his image of being the "strong tough talker."

"People in the party of [Abraham] Lincoln don't want to be associated with a guy who plays footsie with the KKK," McCormack said.

"Backing down on such a high-profile story that's being covered around the clock undercuts his message on being bold and stuff and strong. On the other hand, he can't stand by something that vile. "

Republican campaign strategist Steve Schmidt, who worked for former GOP presidential nominee John McCain, said that he thinks all mistakes made in this stage of a campaign are "born out of fatigue, and you have do or die tests every week."

But he does not believe Trump is a racist or "has tolerance for racists in his heart. When I look at that, I see someone who misunderstands a fundamental aspect about preparing for these shows," said Schmidt.

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MSNBC Host Joe Scarborough slammed Donald Trump's "distressing performance" on CNN in which he refused to disavow the Ku Klux Klan and its Grand Wizard David Duke and says the Sunday interview raises "disturbing questions" about the GOP front-runner.
Trump, Blames, Earpiece, David Duke, Remarks
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Monday, 29 February 2016 08:55 AM
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