Despite endorsements from former and current Ku Klux Klan leaders, a sluggish interest in disavowing the KKK and aligned values and beliefs, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s super PAC has launched a new website attempting to tie Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton to the Klan.
Thursday, the Crippled America PAC emailed its supporters begging for donations to air an anti-Clinton Benghazi ad, according to the Huffington Post. The email adopted Trump’s rhetoric and anti-Clinton statements in its plea for cash. While the ad doesn’t make any mention of the KKK, the email address making the donation solicitation was sent from [email protected] The domain tied to the email is KKKlinton.com, which shows a photo of Clinton hugging former U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), who died ten years ago. It also has a statement from Clinton on the death of the senator and his leadership, as well as a video of former President Bill Clinton talking about the mistake Byrd made by associating with the KKK.
“They mention that he once had a fleeting association with the Ku Klux Klan and what does that mean,” Clinton asked rhetorically. “I’ll tell you what it means, he was a country boy from the hills and hollows of West Virginia. He was trying to get elected. And maybe he did something he shouldn’t have done, and he spent the rest of his life making it up. And that’s what a good person does.”
Upon opening the site, a pop-up appears asking for donations, but above it, a false disclaimer reads, “This image is of Hillary Clinton kissing Senator Robert Byrd who was, until his death, an avid racist who Hillary Clinton praised at his funeral and throughout her Husband’s presidential runs.” Clicking “No thanks, I’m a BernieBot!” is the only way to get the donation box to disappear without donating.
Decades prior to Byrd’s death in 2006 he denounced his KKK association, as Clinton correctly cites. He ultimately became the majority leader of the Senate and is the longest-serving U.S. senator in history.
“I know now I was wrong,” he explained the year before his death. “Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized a thousand times … and I don’t mind apologizing over and over again. I can’t erase what happened.”
Byrd joined the KKK in the 1940s but ultimately saw the error of his ways and left the hate group, publicly saying it would always be the “albatross around my neck.”
The fact that Byrd was a kind of reformed racist even prompted the NAACP to release a statement praising him after his death for learning the errors of his ways.
“Senator Byrd reflects the transformative power of this nation,” wrote former President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “Senator Byrd went from being an active member of the KKK to a being a stalwart supporter of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and many other pieces of seminal legislation that advanced the civil rights and liberties of our country.”
Clinton has alleged that Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” presumes that America isn’t a great country and she believes that it is. Former KKK leader David Duke has been one of the most candid racist Trump supporters to adopt his campaign slogan, citing Jews as the reason that America isn’t a great nation. Just last month, Duke blamed Jews along with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who had family die in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, for the troubles Trump is having on the campaign trail. Duke is even advocating to be Trump’s vice presidential running mate, claiming that he would be Trump’s “best life insurance” policy in the election. Neo-Nazis have also pledged to protect and defend Trump supporters at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland later this month.
Trump made news this weekend when his campaign shared a meme of Clinton using the Jewish Star of David, which many believe is a “dog whistle” to Nazi sympathizers and anti-Semites. The Trump campaign quickly deleted the graphic and replaced it with a circle, but refused to say that the campaign made a mistake. In fact, Trump has defended his use of the star, claiming that it could have been a “sheriff star” or plain star. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski also insisted the star was a sheriff’s star, though it bears little resemblance to a sheriff’s badge. The campaign hasn’t explained why the image was deleted if it wasn’t a mistake to tweet.