David Duke, one of the US’s most notorious racist extremists, has reiterated his support for Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and suggested the president replace his current vice president, Mike Pence, with Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Mr Duke is a renowned neo-Nazi antisemite and white supremacist who founded a Ku Klux Klan chapter in the early 1970s; since then, he has unsuccessfully run for office several times and endorsed various extremist figures and causes.
In a series of tweets late on Wednesday night, he wrote that “Trump & Tucker is the only way to stop the commie Bolsheviks! It is the only path to beat them! #TrumpTucker2020”
Neither Mr Trump or Mr Carlson has endorsed or expressed affiliation with Mr Duke, and there is currently no serious suggestion of Mr Carlson replacing Mr Pence on the 2020 ticket – although there have lately been rumours that senior Republicans are gunning for him to run in 2024.
Mr Duke has expressed his admiration for Mr Carlson on Twitter before, previously calling him a “hero” for supposedly “exposing white ethnic cleansing in America”, celebrating an interview as “one of his best performances”, and invoking alt-right terminology to shout “Can’t cuck the TUCK!”
His rationale for the running mate switch seems to be based on political calculation as much as personal preference. “Tucker Carlson now! We DON’T HAVE 4 YEARS,” he tweeted. “In 4 years there will be no dissident websites, platforms or email addresses, no dissidents allowed credit cards or bank accounts. No Freedom and Tucker will be off air before Biden is even sworn in. Tucker NOW! 4 Years is TOO LATE!
“One more thing about Tucker Mr. President. It would make you IMPEACHMENT PROOF! And Tucker would whip those Republican cucks in line and make them defend our freedom of speech and the heritage of the American people!”
After heartily endorsing Mr Trump for president in 2016, Mr Duke has supported the president ever since. Attending the infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, he told an interviewer that the march was a celebration of what Mr Trump intended to do for the US.
“We’re going to take our country back,” he said. “We’re going to fulfil the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back and that’s what we gotta do.”
On the same day Mr Duke gave that interview, a neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at the rally, killing a young woman and injuring several other people.
Mr Trump and Mr Carlson have both run into trouble for their comments on white supremacy and racism, albeit in different ways. Mr Carlson’s show has recently lost lucrative deals with major advertisers after he said that the “Black Lives Matter” movement “certainly isn’t about Black lives, and remember that when they come for you. And at this rate, they will.”
He has also previously said that allowing “the world’s poor” into the US will make it “poorer and dirtier”, bemoaned Somalian congresswoman Ilhan Omar as “living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country”, and dismissed white supremacy as “not a real problem” just after a self-professedly racist shooter killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas.
Mr Trump, meanwhile, has attracted the support of white supremacist groups and individuals since he first announced his presidential run in 2015.
After four years of allegations that he has failed to fully denounce racist extremism and has coddled it to his advantage, Mr Trump recently shared a video in which two supporters in a golf cart yelled “white power!” in a Florida retirement community, captioning the clip “Thank you to the great people of The Villages”. After a furious outcry, the tweet was deleted.