In a speech Friday at Florida A&M University, Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine (D-VA) blasted Donald Trump, linking him to the KKK:
“Donald Trump has a different point of view. You’ve heard during the campaign, he’s ridiculed people with disabilities, he’s ridiculed people if they were of Mexican-American origin, he has said that anyone who is Muslim should be treated as second class, religiously…Donald Trump was a main guy behind the scurrilous — and I would say bigoted — notion that President Obama wasn’t even born in this country.
…he has supporters like David Duke connected with the Ku Klux Klan who are going around and saying Donald Trump is their candidate because Donald Trump is pushing their values. Ku Klux Klan values, David Duke values, Donald Trump values are not American values, they’re not our values.”
Kaine’s speech at the historically black college comes on the heels of Hillary Clinton’s Reno speech, in which she called out Trump for his allegedly bigoted positions.
What neither Kaine nor Clinton mention is the former Secretary of State’s relationship with the late Senator and former KKK leader Robert Byrd.
When Byrd passed away in 2010, Clinton said:
“Today our country has lost a true American original, my friend and mentor Robert C. Byrd…Senator Byrd was a man of surpassing eloquence and nobility…It is almost impossible to imagine the United States Senate without Robert Byrd. He was not just its longest serving member, he was its heart, its soul, and its historian. From my first day in the senate, I sought out his guidance…”
She also remarked about his “leadership” after 9/11:
“I will never forget his devotion and his friendship in that critical time.”
Sen. Byrd joined the KKK at the age of 24. He became a recruiter and leader in his chapter.
In the mid-1940s (the exact date is disputed), Byrd wrote a letter to Sen. Theodore Bilbo (D-MS), which stated in part:
“I shall never fight in the armed forces with a negro by my side….Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”
Byrd later rose to fame by launching a 14-hour filibuster in opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act while he was a senator.
In 2005, Byrd apologized for his behavior:
“I know now I was wrong. Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized a thousand times…and I don’t mind apologizing over and over again. I can’t erase what happened.”
So, a former Klan leader was Hillary Clinton’s “friend and mentor,” a person to whom she looked for guidance. The former Secretary of State can beat the drum against Trump over and over again, but her relationship with Senator Byrd may make those appeals ring hollow for some.