Via Gateway Pundit, his theory is plausible but not something you’d ever, ever expect to hear from someone who’s been as well disposed to Trump as Rush has. (Per GP, some Trump fans on Twitter are angry at Limbaugh for even suggesting it.) The common defense of Trump when he’s accused of having an unusually large fan base among white nationalists is that he has no control over who supports him and why. He’s not asking for their votes. In fact, there’s no proof that Trump’s even aware of what a phenomenon he is on the alt-right. What Rush is suggesting is that he’s sufficiently well aware to not want to risk offending them in a high-profile format like a Sunday morning political news show. Disavowing Duke on Twitter or offhandedly during a Q&A at a presser is one thing, doing it on CNN’s flagship show for election coverage, which will have a large audience amplified by YouTube clips of key exchanges, is something else. Rush seems to be implying that Trump avoided disavowing Duke because, when push comes to shove, he doesn’t really disavow him. At least not to the point where he’d say something forceful enough that might cost him a meaningfully large number of votes.
Let me throw a theory out there to you. The Sunday shows have, amazingly still, their own separate and distinct stature. What is said on a Sunday show is treated differently and may be different in terms of its weight than what is said in a little sound bite that’s part of the nightly news, for example, or part of a guest appearance on a cable news show during the evening. A Sunday show, that’s stature, by reputation.
A Sunday show is serious, no fooling around. It’s like “for the record,” what you say on the Sunday show. And it could well be that Trump thinks of it that way and just didn’t want the quote, did not want any sound bite from the Sunday show one way or the other because maybe Trump’s nervous. Maybe he’s nervous after that debate. Maybe he’s worried. The polls don’t indicate it. Maybe he’s worried that Cruz and Rubio are gaining on him, and he doesn’t want to tick off anybody that might vote for him.
You can’t make America great again without help from Klan sympathizers, I guess, and taking a pass on condemning Duke under pressure from Tapper helps assure their participation. BuzzFeed asked prominent white nationalists what they thought of Trump’s dodging yesterday, followed by another disavowal of Duke on Twitter. Quote:
Jared Taylor, who runs the site American Renaissance and made robocalls for Johnson’s super PAC, wrote to BuzzFeed News that he didn’t know what to make of Trump’s comments on Duke. But after Trump’s disavowal of his own support in January, Taylor said that Trump is “too smart to accept my endorsement.”
“Even if, in his heart, he doesn’t want whites to become a minority it would be a mistake for him to accept the support of someone who openly opposes that process,” Taylor said. “In disavowing me he did exactly the right thing.”
Taylor, who also noted then that Trump’s disavowal came in “the gentlest possible terms,” did not discount the possibility that the Republican frontrunner might say he wants the U.S. to remain majority white — a core tenet of white nationalism, and the reason white nationalists say they support Trump’s stance on immigration — after he wins the presidency…
Trump’s past repudiations of white nationalists isn’t turning away some of America’s most extreme elements, either. The American Nazi Party’s monthly report in February said an effect of Trump’s campaign was to lay the groundwork for “Aryan Activists.”
How you’d go about measuring how important these votes are to Trump, I don’t know. There are a lot of like-minded trolls on Twitter but only a fool would extrapolate broad conclusions about the total electorate from a social-media niche. I did notice today, though, that Ben Shapiro of Breitbart — a vocal anti-Trumper — has been regularly retweeting anti-semitic cartoons and messages that have been tweeted at him for criticizing Trump. I asked him if it’s common for him to get attacked that way when he opposes a politician. He said no, that this is as bad as it’s been since Hamas supporters started spamming him for defending Israel during the Gaza war, but he doesn’t think the trolls represent most Trump fans. (Neither do I.) Tapper also retweeted someone who referred to him as “Jew Jake Tapper” with the comment “All day, this garbage.” John Podhoretz, another Trump critic, replied to that by claiming he gets 75 tweets like that each night. Hot Air alum Noah Rothman, also anti-Trump, is getting it too. Other Jewish conservatives have made similar complaints. This will continue to be mostly ignored in the primary, partly because it’s deeply embarrassing to the GOP to acknowledge it and partly because supposedly there’s nothing worse than being politically correct, even when being “politically incorrect” is taken as a license to call people “kikes.” You’ll hear a lot about it this summer, though, once the Democrats and the wider media emerge as the country’s main anti-Trump political force and they start bearing the brunt of this. Hope Trump’s got better spin by then than “my earpiece didn’t work.”
Exit quotation from Tapper: “I think that my interview with Donald Trump yesterday will actually help him win the nomination.”