The third-party pasts of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have been brought up intermittently as they seek this year’s major-party nominations. In Sander’s case, it was the radicalism of his 1970s Liberty Union platform that included abolition of the CIA and total rejection of all gun control laws, and his independent campaigns in the 1980s against Democratic nominees. Donald Trump’s latest headline-grabber, was his refusal to disavow David Duke’s endorsement of him. Duke is the notorious former Klansman and Louisiana state legislator, who ran a campaign for Governor that inspired the memorable (and successful) bumper sticker: “Vote for the crook, it’s important.” in reference to Duke’s ethically-challenged Democratic opponent.
Reason notes, however, that Trump was at one time more familiar with Duke. He explicitly cited David Duke’s involvement as a reason why he left the Reform Party in 2000, after briefly seeking its nomination, which went to Pat Buchanan that year. From Reason:
But Trump certainly knew who David Duke was in 2000. As The New York Times reported at the time, Trump declined to be a presidential candidate on the Reform Party ticket explicitly because of Duke’s Klan connections:
Mr. Trump painted a fairly dark picture of the Reform Party in his statement, noting the role of Mr. Buchanan, along with the roles of David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and Lenora Fulani, the former standard-bearer of the New Alliance Party and an advocate of Marxist-Leninist politics.
“The Reform Party now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. Fulani,” he said in his statement. “This is not company I wish to keep.” [via Justin Green]