Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has received a presidential endorsement that she does not want — from former Ku Klux Klan leader and Louisiana GOP state lawmaker David Duke.
Duke, 68, has made his Twitter banner photo an image of Gabbard with the caption, “Finally a candidate who will actually put America First rather than Israel First,” a reference to one of President Donald Trump’s trademark slogans.
Duke claimed in a tweet earlier this week that Gabbard, a Hawaii Democrat, is “the only Presidential candidate who doesn’t want to send White children off to die for Israel.”
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) February 5, 2019
But Gabbard rejected Duke’s characterization of her for rolling back military and strategic support in Israel and other parts of the Middle East, instead emphasizing that she wants to more broadly de-escalate U.S. involvement in “regime-change wars” in the region.
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“I have strongly denounced David Duke’s hateful views and his so-called ‘support’ multiple times in the past, and reject his support,” she told The New York Post in a statement Tuesday.
“Publicizing Duke’s so-called ‘endorsement’ is meant to distract from my message: that I will end regime-change wars, work to end the new cold war and take us away from the precipice of a nuclear war, which is a greater danger now than ever before.”
Duke has put his thumb on the scale in past presidential elections — whether it has any weight is up for debate — endorsing Trump in 2016.
Unlike Gabbard, Trump did not immediately disavow the former KKK grand wizard’s support.
“Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK?” Trump told CNN’s Jake Tapper in February 2016 as he was on his way to securing the GOP nomination.
Correction, 1:50 p.m. | An earlier version of this story misstated David Duke’s former position in the Louisiana legislature. He served in that state’s House of Representatives.