Trump has been a political dilettante for decades, but he first rose to prominence in modern GOP circles with his overtly racist “birther” campaign. When asked about it during this election season, for many months Trump has stonewalled, dismissing the question by simply saying “I don’t talk about that anymore,” and remarkably — with rare exceptions — he has gotten away with that.
But the Trump campaign’s outrage and attendant posturing over Clinton’s “deplorables” comment emboldened Wolf Blitzer (of all people!) to delve into Trump’s numerous absurdities, including the birther issue. Blitzer cornered Trump’s running mate on CNN yesterday; summary via TPM:
After repeatedly calling for an apology from Hillary Clinton for her remarks that “half” of Donald Trump supporters are a “basket of deplorables,” Trump’s running mate refused to say Monday whether Trump should apologize for his lengthy “birther” crusade against President Obama.
“We’re just not talking about that issue. It’s a 4-year-old issue,” Mike Pence told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, later adding that he believes Obama was born in Hawaii.
“It’s not what the American people are talking about, it really isn’t,” he said.
Actually, Peak Birther occurred five years ago, but now that Pence has specified that issues older than four years are off the table, we can look forward to Benghazi-free campaigning and coverage from here on out since the fourth anniversary of the Benghazi attack was Sunday. I know I’m relieved.
But Pence opened up a brand-new can of deplorable worms during the CNN interview:
Pence also refused to say whether he would call former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who has embraced Trump’s presidential campaign, “deplorable.”
“I’m not in the name-calling business,” Pence said, while arguing that the campaign already made clear it did not want Duke’s support.
The thoroughly deplorable Duke was happy to remain unrebuked by the Trump campaign:
Wolf Blitzer demands that Pense call me "Deplorable" and he refuses.. Wolfie boy, still upset that I outed you on CNN as an AIPAC AGENT?
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) September 13, 2016
For those keeping score at home, this is the Republican ticket’s second refusal to deplore / disavow / condemn the country’s most notorious Klansman and white supremacist.
Okay, yeah, Pence said the campaign made it clear it doesn’t want Duke’s support (wink-wink!), but 1) it’s laugh-out-loud ridiculous for anyone associated with the Donald Fucking Trump campaign to demur on the basis of name-calling, and 2) calling David Motherfucking Duke “deplorable” should be about as controversial as coming out against childhood hunger or in favor of world peace.
I don’t know, you guys. It’s almost as if the Trump-Pence campaign is taking great pains to avoid offending an important constituency…