Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt expressed disbelief on Monday with Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump closes four companies tied to Saudi Arabia Manchin says he's not talking with Trump about job Dave Chappelle's 'SNL' appearance draws FCC complaints 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 ClintonJoy Behar: Why do I have to be nice about Trump? Poll: Republicans think media ‘intentionally misled the public’ about polling Democrats: Where the hell are You? 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 RubioWhat Trump's Cabinet picks reveal House passes water bill with Flint aid, drought relief What the 2016 election can tell us about 2018 midterms MORE (R-Fla.) and Ted CruzTed CruzCruz, DeSantis to introduce constitutional amendment on term limits Fiorina to meet with Trump on Monday Trump picks Goldman Sachs chief for top economic adviser: report 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.