- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 28, 2016

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump was grilled Sunday on his opinion of Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini and white nationalist David Duke, after both popped up in references to his campaign.

Mr. Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and former member of the Louisiana State Legislature, has endorsed the billionaire businessman, but Mr. Trump pleaded ignorance when asked about the endorsement.

“Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK?” Mr. Trump said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.”

Asked if he would condemn the endorsement, Mr. Trump said, “I’d have to look at the group. I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want me to condemn the group that I know nothing about.”

Later Sunday, Mr. Trump, who leads the Republican presidential field entering the Super Tuesday primary, defended a Mussolini quote posted Sunday on his Twitter account: “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.”

“It’s OK to know it’s Mussolini. Look, Mussolini was Mussolini,” Mr. Trump said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It’s a very good quote, it’s a very interesting quote. I saw it, I don’t know who said it, but what difference does it make whether it’s Mussolini or somebody else? It’s certainly a very interesting quote.”

Asked if he wants to be “associated with a fascist,” Mr. Trump said, “No, I want to be associated with interesting quotes. I have almost 14 million people between Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and all of that, and we do interesting things.”

“Hey, it got your attention, didn’t it?” he added.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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