“Finally a candidate who will actually put America First rather than Israel First!”
Former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke has made his endorsement in the 2020 presidential race: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.
“Tulsi Gabbard for President,” Duke tweeted Wednesday. “Finally a candidate who will actually put America First rather than Israel First!”
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Although Gabbard firmly repudiated Duke, the veteran white supremacist felt strongly enough to temporarily promote her candidacy via the banner image on his Twitter profile.
Gabbard, who represents Hawaii’s 2nd district, won Duke’s backing after earlier in the day taking a firm non-interventionist stance on Syria. Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Gabbard reiterated her past pseudo-defense of Syrian President Bashar Assad, an unrepentant genocidal dictator.
“Assad is not the enemy of the United States because Syria does not pose a direct threat to the United States,” she said.
She expounded on her view in a tweet shared by Duke, saying that “no Authorization to Use Military Force has ever passed Congress to go to war against Syria. If US topples Assad, Al-Qaeda/ISIS will take over. Why do you prefer them to Assad?”
Duke’s affection for Gabbard has history. In November 2016, he implored then President-elect Donald Trump, whom he had earlier endorsed, to consider her for secretary of state.
The virulent anti-Semite read a very particular subtext into Gabbard’s statements: The only reason the United States is targeting Assad is to defend American ally and Syria’s beleaguered neighbor, Israel.
However, in a statement, Gabbard, who launched her presidential campaign on Monday, rejected both Duke’s endorsement and his interpretation of her positions on Assad and Syria. Her isolationist streak is motivated not by opposition to Israel but by a broad desire to “end regime-change wars, work to end the new cold war and take us away from the precipice of a nuclear war, which is a greater danger now than ever before,” she said.
Regarding Duke himself, she added that she has “strongly denounced David Duke’s hateful views and his so-called ‘support’ multiple times in the past, and reject his support.”
In response, Duke sneeringly retweeted a post that Gabbard wrote following Trump’s State of the Union speech Tuesday promising to “never forget” the suffering of the Jewish people in the Holocaust.
“FREE PALESTINE!” he taunted.
Duke also deleted his original endorsement tweet and banner and tweeted a disclaimer claiming that he had never really endorsed Gabbard in the first place.
Still, the fleeting fling captured an inchoate consensus between some on the far-right and the far-left (fueled by general ignorance) on the subject of Israel. Some have further seen the left’s passion for identity politics as shading into a new form of bigotry.
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