Donald Trump’s Mussolini quote that was retweeted: “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.” The tweet was created by a parody account, including Trump’s handle, Yahoo News.
The account is named @ilduce2016 after Mussolini’s Italian title, the Leader. Asked about the tweet in a TV interview, Trump said he wanted “to be associated with interesting quotes.”
“Mussolini was Mussolini… What difference does it make?” Trump said when asked about the retweet on NBC’s Meet The Press programme. “It got your attention, didn’t it?” Mussolini led Italy from 1922 until 1943, and led the country into war with the US in 1941.
The Gawker website said it had created “a Twitter bot that would post quotes from the writings and speeches of… Mussolini” at Donald Trump until he eventually retweeted one.
Correspondents say this is the latest example of behavior which would have damaged any other candidate but which seems not to dent Trump’s status as frontrunner for the Republican party nomination for the US presidential election later this year.
Trump’s campaign has seen a number of surprising moments, including one of his previous rivals for the candidacy, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, endorsing him on Friday.
On Sunday Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard and former finance co-chair of Christie’s campaign, called Christie’s endorsement “an astonishing display of political opportunism.”
“Trump would take America on a dangerous journey. Christie knows all that and indicated as much many times publicly,” Whitman said.
Also on Sunday, Donald Trump appeared reluctant in a CNN interview to distance himself from an endorsement from David Duke, a former senior leader of the white supremacist group Ku Klux Klan. He told the interviewer he “didn’t know anything about David Duke.”
Later, however, he tweeted a video from an earlier press conference in which he appeared to recognise Duke’s name immediately and said: “David Duke endorsed me? OK, I disavow.”
Besides the Donald Trump Mussolini quote on Twitter, an NBC poll put the republican frontrunner ahead in contests in Georgia and Tennessee due on March 1 as part of “Super Tuesday”, when 11 states will go to the polls to choose candidates.
His rival Ted Cruz was ahead in his home state of Texas, while Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton had leads in all three states over Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.