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Trump under fire for not disavowing KKK leader's implicit endorsement

Donald Trump has faced backlash after declining to denounce a white supremacist leader who indirectly endorsed him. The billionaire businessman is predicted to win big ahead of a series of key primaries on Tuesday.

The media mogul and Republican frontrunner has found himself in hot water after he failed to immediately distance himself from comments made by a notorious white supremacist.

David Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), gave Trump an implicit endorsement for the presidency last week when he called on his followers to vote for the New York businessman.

"Voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage," Duke said on his radio program.

Failure to condemn Duke

In a subsequent interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Trump declined to condemn the KKK leader.

"Well, just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK? I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists," Trump said.

His response drew heavy criticism from Republican rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who are hoping to pull off a last-chance win against him on Tuesday in many southern states where the KKK has appeal for far-right voters.

Mixed signals

In response to the growing furor, Trump took to Twitter to disassociate himself from Duke.

Trump's delayed response to the controversy came in spite of a 2000 New York Times op-ed in which he blasted Duke, saying he'd decided not to run as a third-party presidential candidate because he didn't want to be associated with the white supremacist leader, who had mounted a presidential campaign.

blc/rc (AP, AFP)

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