Romney says Trump disqualified for ‘coddling repugnant bigotry’

Posted at 7:22 PM, Feb 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-29 21:22:38-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A Sunday morning interview threw the Republican Party Presidential nominating contest into more turmoil on the eve of the biggest voting day of the primary season.

Donald Trump answered a question about an endorsement no major party candidate seeks: David Duke, former Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan and still an outspoken white supremacist and separatist.

Trump didn’t seek the endorsement, but he wasn’t ready to disavow it when asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper.

"Well, just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK? I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with the white supremacy or white supremacists,” Trump said.

Tapper continued to ask about Duke and the KKK for just over a minute, with Trump saying repeatedly he didn’t know anything about Duke and would need to know more about the groups Tapper referred to before disavowing.

Trump’s rivals jumped on the comments, most notably Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, talking about Trump’s subsequent explanation of his statements.

“He blamed it on a bad earpiece, that he couldn't hear the question. I don't care how bad the earpiece is, Ku Klux Klan comes through pretty clearly and he refuses to criticize it,” Rubio said.

The last man to hold the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney, echoed Rubio’s feelings on Twitter.

“A disqualifying & disgusting response by @realDonaldTrump to the KKK. His coddling of repugnant bigotry is not in the character of America,” Romney stated.

But while high profile Republicans criticized, the statements did not seem to stall Trump’s campaign going into Super Tuesday.

He held rallies with thousands in attendance in Alabama and Virginia, picking up the endorsement of Alabama U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions on the way.