Republican vice presidential candidate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence greets the crowd before introducing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a rally on August 5, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Pence on David Duke praise: 'It does really bother me'
01:27 - Source: CNN

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Duke recorded a call linking himself to Trump

Democrats looked to capitalize on the controversy

Washington CNN  — 

Donald Trump’s campaign is disavowing support from a prominent white nationalist, David Duke, who is once again causing problems for the Republican nominee by claiming that Trump is a kindred spirit.

Duke is running for Senate in Louisiana, and he has recorded an automated call pitching both his and Trump’s campaigns as a way to halt increases in immigration and cure what he calls racial aggression.

“It’s time to stand up and vote for Donald Trump for president and vote for me, David Duke for the US Senate,” Duke says in the call, which was first reported Monday by BuzzFeed.

Trump, who has been slow to distance himself from the former Ku Klux Klan leader in the past, issued a statement later Monday doing just that.

“Mr. Trump has continued to denounce David Duke and any group or individual associated with a message of hate,” Trump’s campaign said in a statement. “There is no place for this in the Republican Party or our country. We have no knowledge of these calls or any related activities, but strongly condemn and disavow.”

In an interview with CNN, Duke said he was purely voicing his opinion about Trump’s campaign and that the Republican nominee had no influence over what Duke chose to say.

“A candidate has no control over other people’s opinions and support,” said Duke. “We should vote for Donald Trump.”

Hillary Clinton has used Trump’s ties to white nationalists like Duke to paint Trump as racially divisive and ideologically simpatico with his most controversial supporters. Yet Clinton’s campaign has also caught criticism for extending their argument too far, with her vice presidential nominee, Tim Kaine, last week saying that Trump was “pushing” the KKK’s and Duke’s “values.”

Other Democrats were quick to jump Monday on the latest reminder of Trump’s ties to this movement.

“Will you stand with us?” read a fundraising email from the Louisiana Democratic Party on Monday evening. “Will you do what you can to help us fund the fight against David Duke and Donald Trump?”

CNN’s Kevin Bohn and Salim Essaid contributed to this report.