Donald Trump at a rally in Tennessee on Feb. 27. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)
Donald Trump doesn’t want to be associated with a known fascist — unless it helps with his Twitter following.
The Republican frontrunner defended his retweet of a famous quote by Benito Mussolini on Sunday, saying he knew it was from the one-time Italian dictator and leader of the National Fascist Party but thought it was an “interesting quote.”
“Look, Mussolini was Mussolini,” Trump said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “It’s a very good quote; it’s a very interesting quote, and I know it. I saw it. And I know who said it. But what difference does it make whether it’s Mussolini or somebody else? It’s certainly a very interesting quote. That’s probably why I have between Facebook and Twitter 14 million people when other people don’t.”
— Meet the Press (@meetthepress)February 28, 2016
“Do you want to be associated with a fascist?” NBC’s Chuck Todd asked the leading contender for the GOP presidential nomination.
“No, I want to be associated with interesting quotes,” Trump replied. “And people, you know, I have almost 14 million people between Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and all of that. And we do interesting things. And I sent it out. And certainly, hey, it got your attention, didn’t it?”
The tweet in question was sent to Trump by a Twitter account, @IlDuce2016, created by the website Gawker.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)February 28, 2016
“Last year, we set a trap for Trump,“ Gawker’s Alex Pareene explained. "We came up with the idea for that Mussolini bot under the assumption that Trump would retweet just about anything, no matter how dubious or vile the source, as long as it sounded like praise for himself.”
Trump had already gotten himself into trouble retweeting material from such dubious sources.
In January, Trump retweeted a message mocking former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush from a user with the Twitter handle @WhiteGenocideTM.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)January 22, 2016
And in November, the brash billionaire retweeted a bogus graphic purporting to show 2015 U.S. crime statistics, including the percentage of whites killed by blacks as 81 percent. According to the FBI, that figure will not be available until the fall of 2016. In 2014, however, the percentage was slightly less: 14.6 percent.