Romney: Trump's KKK response 'disgusting'

Mitt Romney on Monday assailed Donald TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE’s response to support from former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke as rendering him unfit for the White House.

“A disqualifying and disgusting response by @realDonaldTrump to the KKK,” tweeted Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee.

“[Trump’s] coddling of repugnant bigotry is not in the character of America,” Romney added.

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Duke urged listeners on his radio show last week to vote for Trump, arguing that supporting Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioWatch live: Day 2 at CPAC DeSantis derides 'failed Republican establishment' at CPAC The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Divided House on full display MORE (R-Fla.) or Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech Sunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues Texas attorney general hits links with Trump before CPAC appearance MORE (R-Texas) instead would be “treason to your heritage.”

Trump evaded questions about Duke’s support during a Sunday interview with CNN, saying he doesn't fully understand the positions of the former KKK grand wizard.

“I don’t know anything about David Duke,” he told anchor Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”  “I don’t know anything about what you’re talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. I know nothing about white supremacist.”

Trump on Monday said a “lousy earpiece” caused a misunderstanding during the interview.

“You could hardly hear what [Tapper] was saying,” he said. “What I heard was ‘various groups.’  I have no problem disavowing groups, but I’d at least like to know who they are.  It’d be very unfair disavowing a group if they shouldn’t be disavowed.”

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Romney’s criticism of Trump marks the latest escalation of his feud with the New York business man, who is poised for big wins this week in Super Tuesday contests that could propel him to the nomination.

Romney has repeatedly attacked Trump for not publicly releasing his tax returns, arguing there is “no legit reason” for keeping the documents private.

Trump has responded by calling Romney a “a fool” for his management of the tax issue four years ago during his own presidential run. He has said he is in “no rush” to release his tax history given the complexity of his business dealings.

Updated at 2:02 p.m.