The campaign coordinator for David Duke’s Senate campaign on Tuesday morning said that Donald Trump only disavowed robocalls from Duke urging voters to back Trump because the Republican nominee’s advisers directed him to do so.
“If he was not forced to, he would have never disavowed David,” campaign coordinator Mike Lawrence told TPM, adding that he believes Trump was told to disavow Duke by an adviser.
The Duke campaign sent out robocalls urging Louisiana residents to vote for both Duke and Trump, Buzzfeed News reported Monday.
“It’s time to stand up and vote for Donald Trump for President and vote for me, David Duke, for the U.S. Senate,” Duke says in the call.
Shortly after Buzzfeed reported on the robocalls, the Trump campaign issued a statement disavowing Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, and distancing the campaign from the calls.
“Mr. Trump has continued to denounce David Duke and any group or individual associated with a message of hate,” the campaign said in the statement. “There is no place for this in the Republican Party or our country. We have no knowledge of these calls or any related activities, but strongly condemn and disavow.”
Trump was previously prompted to disavow Duke in February when the former KKK leader expressed support for the real estate mogul. Trump first disavowed Duke at a rally, but then said he didn’t “know anything about David Duke” when asked if he would condemn Duke’s support. Trump blamed his response in that interview on a “lousy earpiece.”
Lawrence told TPM that he believes there is overlap between Trump and Duke voters.
“Trump does not want to lose the Duke support in the state of Louisiana,” he said.
“Duke and Trump’s future are linked together,” Lawrence added in an email follow-up to his phone call with TPM. “Trump will overwhelmingly carry the State of Louisiana; however, this cannot be done without the Duke vote.”