Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) on Monday said that white nationalist David Duke’s support of Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCould President Hillary heal a divided nation? Trump lands first major newspaper endorsement Clinton: Trump's election talk poses 'threat to our democracy' MORE does not make the GOP presidential front-runner racist.
“I’ve read some of the things he said and it looks to me that he totally disavowed the endorsement,” he told Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe."
Trump has come under fire from his rivals for the GOP presidential nomination and a host of other Republicans for not disavowing Duke's endorsement during a CNN interview on Sunday. Trump distanced himself from Duke at a Friday news conference, but did not do so on Sunday.
In another interview on Monday, Trump blamed his comments on a faulty earpiece.
Huckabee said that Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, is universally reviled as a representative of bigotry.
“David Duke and the KKK are absolutely abominable,” he said. "I don’t think that anybody I know, anybody I’ve ever known supports them.”
Some have wondered whether Trump did not offer a stronger statement on Sunday because of the upcoming Super Tuesday contests in the South, but Huckabee said Duke is reviled there. Trump, he said, may not realize that.
“I doubt he is as sensitive about just how deplorable David Duke is to many of us in the South,” he said of Trump.
“Race relationships are not only dramatically better, but I think in many cases better than they are in other parts of the country,” the former Arkansas governor added. "I think that this continuing perception that the South is still a hotbed of racism, Joe, that’s nonsense and you know that’s nonsense.”
Mike Huckabee’s remarks follow his daughter Sarah Huckabee Sanders becoming a senior adviser for the Trump campaign last week.
Trump dodged questions about Duke’s support during an uncomfortable interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper last Sunday. The outspoken billionaire has repeatedly denied he appreciates Duke’s support in the GOP presidential primary.
Duke urged listeners on his radio show to back Trump last week, adding that supporting Sens. Marco RubioMarco RubioNew York Times endorses Rubio's rival Rubio: GOP Congress could go in different direction than Trump Poll: Clinton holds 4-point lead in Florida MORE (R-Fla.) and Ted CruzTed CruzIs Georgia turning blue? Five takeaways from money race Club for Growth: Anti-Trump spending proved to be 'good call' MORE (R-Texas) instead constitutes “treason to your heritage."