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KKK Paper Endorses Trump; Campaign Calls Outlet 'Repulsive'

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump campaigns at a rally in Eau Claire, Wis., on Tuesday. "Mr. Trump and the campaign denounces hate in any form," the campaign said in a statement Tuesday evening.
Chip Somodevilla
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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump campaigns at a rally in Eau Claire, Wis., on Tuesday. "Mr. Trump and the campaign denounces hate in any form," the campaign said in a statement Tuesday evening.

Newspaper endorsements have been few and far between for Donald Trump this year. Several traditionally conservative papers like The Dallas Morning News and The Cincinnati Enquirer endorsed Hillary Clinton or Libertarian Gary Johnson this year. Others declined to endorse a candidate at all.

Trump's latest newspaper endorsement, though, is something his campaign is making it very clear it does not want: The Crusader, a newspaper affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan, and that brands itself as "the premier voice of the white resistance."

"While Trump wants to make America great again, we have to ask ourselves, 'What made America great in the first place?'" the endorsement reads, according to the Washington Post. "The short answer to that is simple. America was great not because of what our forefathers did — but because of who our forefathers were. America was founded as a White Christian Republic. And as a White Christian Republic it became great."

Trump's campaign issued a statement to news outlets reading, "Mr. Trump and the campaign denounces hate in any form. This publication is repulsive and their views do not represent the tens of millions of Americans who are uniting behind our campaign."

But the support of racists and white nationalists has been a campaign-long problem for Trump. Former KKK leader David Duke has repeatedly and enthusiastically backed the Republican nominee and has even launched a long shot bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana.

"As a United States senator, nobody will be more supportive of his legislative agenda, his Supreme Court agenda, than I will," Duke told NPR earlier this year.

When Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep asked Duke whether he thought "Trump voters are your voters," Duke replied, "Well of course they are. Because I represent the ideas of preserving this country and the heritage of this country, and I think Trump represents that as well."

Trump and his campaign have repeatedly disavowed Duke and his support. But during the Republican primary, Trump generated a wave of negative headlines for not immediately doing so when asked by CNN's Jake Tapper.

"Would you just say unequivocally you condemn them and you don't want their support? " Tapper asked.

"I have to look at the group. I mean, I don't know what group you're talking about," Trump responded.

The candidate later blamed the exchange on a faulty earpiece, and has repeatedly — and at times exasperatedly — disavowed Duke since then.

Still, there's no question his candidacy has energized white nationalists, both within the online "alt-right" community and throughout the country.

A neo-Nazi leader made headlines on Wednesday for telling Politico he is organizing voter suppression operations in Philadelphia on Election Day.

These plans, according to the outlet, include using hidden cameras to monitor the polls and "handing out liquor and marijuana in the city's 'ghetto' in order to keep people from showing up at the polls." (Experts who monitor groups like this tell Politico they're skeptical these plans will actually be carried out.)

But several different right-wing groups, motivated by Trump's repeated concerns about a "rigged" election and urban voter fraud, are organizing their own vigilante poll-monitoring operations for next week. According to NPR's Pam Fessler, one militia group called the Oath Keepers "has appealed to its members, mostly former military and police, to go undercover at polling sites and collect intelligence about possible fraud."

"In an online video," Fessler reports, "the group's president, Stewart Rhodes, asked supporters 'to go out as part of our call to action, to go and hunt down, look for vote fraud and voter intimidation and document it, to do the best we can to stop it this election.'"

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.
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