Conservatives and liberals lashed out on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for refusing to reject an endorsement by a white nationalist, David Duke, who formerly led the Klu Klux Klan.
Trump said he knew nothing about KKK leader Duke when asked about the matter on CNN’s “State of the Union” talk show.
“I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that i know nothing about. I’d have to look,” Trump said about the KKK.
The KKK is a movement in the United States that has advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism and anti-immigration.
On Friday, Trump appeared surprised when confronted about the issue at a press conference and quickly said, “I disavow.”
His comments on Sunday on television drew prompt criticism from across the political spectrum.
"We cannot be a party that nominates someone that refuses to condemn white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan," Senator Marco Rubio told a crowd of supporters in Virginia.
"Not only is that wrong, it makes him unelectable."
Another rival, Ohio Governor John Kasich, tweeted: "Hate groups have no place in America. We are stronger together. End of story."
Cruz denounced the “really sad” comments.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 28, 2016
Rupert Murdoch, founder and CEO of FOX, urged Republicans to “cool it and close ranks to fight real enemy.”
Sanders wrote: “America’s first black president cannot and will not be succeeded by a hatemonger who refuses to condemn the KKK.”
Clinton retweeted Sanders’ comment, in a rare sign of agreement between the rivals.
The controversy came just days ahead of "Super Tuesday" when Republicans are to hold presidential primaries in 11 states across the US and Trump leads the polls in most of the states except for Texas, where Senator Ted Cruz has a slim lead over the real estate mogul in his home state.
Last year, a technology blog unearthed a 1927 news report stating that Fred Trump, Donald Trump’s father, was one of seven men arrested during clashes between 1,000 KKK members and 100 police officers in Queens, New York.
Trump has denied the report, telling the Daily Mail, a British newspaper: "He was never arrested. He has nothing to do with this. This never happened. This is nonsense and it never happened."