Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt expressed disbelief on Monday with Donald TrumpDonald TrumpRNC strategizes against Clinton VP contenders Analysis: Trump, Clinton plans not in line with balancing national debt Trump blows response to Brexit vote MORE’s handling of support from white nationalist David Duke.
“It’s inexplicable,” he told host Carol Costello on “CNN Newsroom." "I don’t know what Donald was thinking yesterday.”
“I can’t imagine anybody who wants to be president not knowing who David Duke is,” he said. "[Trump] had denounced David Duke two days ago.”
Hewitt also noted that Trump pleading ignorance on Duke’s background recalls some of the greatest presidential campaign gaffes in American history.
“It’s like Mitt Romney’s ’47 percent’ moment,” he said, citing the 2012 GOP presidential nominee’s charge that at least “47 percent” of people would reelect President Obama because of their dependency on big government.
“It’s like [former president] Gerald Ford saying ‘Poland is free’ during the 1976 debates,” Hewitt continued, referencing Ford’s remarks that the Soviet Union did not dominate Eastern Europe.
Hewitt added that Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonRNC strategizes against Clinton VP contenders Analysis: Trump, Clinton plans not in line with balancing national debt Clinton: 'American people deserve better' than gun control stalemate MORE has missteps of her own, but that Trump’s struggles with Duke’s backing would eclipse them.
“It’s like Hillary Clinton saying she left the White House ‘impoverished,” he said. "It’s like Hillary Clinton saying she was named for [famed explored] Sir Edmund Hillary. She’s got a long list of these as well but none of them would be as devastating on election weekend in November as this one.”
Trump on Monday blamed a “lousy earpiece” for confusing an exchange with CNN anchor Jake Tapper over Duke’s backing the day before.
Duke told listeners on his radio show last week that they should vote for Trump, arguing casting ballots for Sens. Marco RubioMarco RubioColorado GOP Senate race to unseat Dem incumbent is wide open Rubio: I hope I can trust whoever wins with the nuclear codes Rubio faces Trump-like challenger in primary MORE (R-Fla.) and Ted CruzTed CruzTrump: Cruz, Kasich shouldn't speak at convention without endorsement Colorado GOP Senate race to unseat Dem incumbent is wide open O'Malley gives Trump a nickname: 'Chicken Donald' MORE (R-Texas) instead constitutes “treason to your heritage."
Trump has since repeatedly distanced himself from Duke’s praise, arguing he is unfamiliar with the full extent of his role in white nationalism.