Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt expressed disbelief on Monday with Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSeven key players for Trump on immigration Spicer: Media coverage of Trump has not been fair Kasich finds it hard to rule out 2020 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 ClintonBiden: ‘Guys, I’m not running’ Trump says email hacking during election 'could've been China' or other groups Maxine Waters: ‘I’ve never seen anybody as disgusting or as disrespectful’ as Trump 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 RubioLongtime GOP incumbent will not seek reelection Overnight Defense: Commander calls North Korea crisis 'worst' he's seen | Trump signs VA order | Dems push Trump to fill national security posts What’s with Trump’s spelling mistakes? MORE (R-Fla.) and Ted CruzTed CruzKasich finds it hard to rule out 2020 Trump in campaign mode at NRA convention Trump’s hands are tied on 9th Circuit 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.