MSNBC ‘s “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough and former GOP presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney called the presidential candidate Donald Trump’s reaction to the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke endorsement “disqualifying.”
“That’s disqualifying right there. It’s breathtaking,” the morning show host said on Monday. “To say you don’t know about the Ku Klux Klan? You don’t know about David Duke?”
Scarborough went on to speculate that this might be Trump’s strategy to court Southern voters.
“This isn’t buying him a single vote. I mean, is he really so stupid that he thinks Southerners aren’t offended by the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke? Is he really so ignorant of Southern voters that he thinks this is the way to their heart?” he asked his show panel.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney joined Scarborough on Monday morning in calling Trump’s comments “disqualifying” on Twitter:
A disqualifying & disgusting response by @realDonaldTrump to the KKK. His coddling of repugnant bigotry is not in the character of America.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) February 29, 2016
CNN’s “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper pressed Trump three times on Sunday about whether he’d distance himself from the Ku Klux Klan.
“I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists,” Trump responded. “So I don’t know. I don’t know — did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.”
“To go neutral — to play Switzerland when you’re talking about the Klan? And to say he doesn’t know enough information about the Klan to condemn them? Exactly what does Donald Trump expect to learn in the next 24 hours about the Klan?” Scarborough said.
The businessman blamed the miscommunication on a bad earpiece.
“I was sitting in a house in Florida, with a bad earpiece,” he told NBC’s “Today” show Monday. “I could hardly hear what he’s saying. I hear various groups. I don’t mind disavowing anyone. I disavowed Duke the day before at a major conference.” (RELATED: Trump’s Excuse For Not Disavowing KKK: ‘I Had A Lousy Earpiece’ [VIDEO])
Trump had previously disavowed the Duke endorsement at a news conference on Friday.
As I stated at the press conference on Friday regarding David Duke- I disavow. pic.twitter.com/OIXFKPUlz2
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2016
“I didn’t even know he endorsed me. David Duke endorsed me? I disavow, OK,” Trump said.
Trump’s comments came days before 12 states vote on Super Tuesday.