Fox News host Megyn Kelly repeatedly pressed Mike Huckabee on Monday night over his defense of Donald Trump amid ongoing controversy surrounding Trump’s handling of an endorsement from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
Kelly noted 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s critique that Trump’s handling of the endorsement was “disqualifying and disgusting” and that Trump’s “coddling of repugnant bigotry is not in the character of America,” and asked Huckabee to respond.
“I’m amazed that Mitt would say that,” Huckabee responded. “Donald Trump has repeatedly disavowed David Duke.”
But Kelly wasn’t satisfied with that response and continued pressing Huckabee about why Trump didn’t “unequivocally condemn” Duke during an interview on Sunday with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
“I don’t know of anybody who has ever suggested that Donald Trump is a racist,” Huckabee, who recently bowed out of the 2016 presidential race, responded. “I’m not speaking as somebody who’s out there advocating for Trump.”
Watch the clash below:
Kelly, though, explained that some critics have said that Trump’s response to Tapper was intentional.
“What his critics say is the explanation is he heard very well and he was trying to give some sort of a dog whistle to people in the south who don’t want to hear David Duke disavowed,” she said. “That’s what Mitt Romney’s suggesting there.”
In an interview with the “Today” show on Monday, Trump blamed a bad earpiece on his response, though critics have noted that he clearly heard the name “David Duke,” as he repeated it during the interview with Tapper.
“I’m sitting in a house in Florida, with the very bad earpiece they gave me, and you could hardly hear what he (Tapper) was saying,” Trump told “Today.” “But what I heard was ‘various groups’ and I don’t mind disavowing anybody…and I disavowed David Duke and I disavowed him the day before at a major news conference.”
Huckabee gave Trump the benefit of the doubt during his exchange with Kelly, saying, “Mitt Romney wasnt on the ear piece. Neither was Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz.”
He continued, “Here’s the one thing I think is important: Is Donald Trump a racist? I don’t think he is.”
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