Donald Trump has re-tweeted a quote attributed to Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini.
The tweet, created by a parody account and including Donald Trump’s handle, read: “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.”
The account is named @ilduce2016 after Benito Mussolini’s Italian title, the Leader.
Asked about the tweet in a TV interview, Donald Trump said he wanted “to be associated with interesting quotes”.
“Mussolini was Mussolini… What difference does it make?” the Republican presidential hopeful said when asked about the re-tweet on NBC’s Meet The Press.
“It got your attention, didn’t it?”
Benito Mussolini led Italy from 1922 until 1943, and led the coutry 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 re-tweeted one.
Correspondents say this is the latest example of behavior which would have damaged any other candidate but which seems not to dent Donald Trump’s status as frontrunner for the GOP nomination for the presidential election later this year.
Donald 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 February 26.
On February 28, Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard and former finance co-chair of Chris 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,” Meg Whitman said.
On the same day, 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 recognize Duke’s name immediately and said: “David Duke endorsed me? OK, I disavow.”
An NBC poll put Donald Trump 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.
Donald Trump’s 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.
Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has stoked controversy by praising Benito Mussolini on Holocaust Memorial Day – despite Il Duce’s anti-Jewish laws.
Benito Mussolini had been wrong to pass anti-Jewish laws but had otherwise been a good leader, said Silvio Berlusconi.
He was speaking at a Milan ceremony commemorating victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
Silvio Berlusconi has not ruled out another stint as PM if his party wins polls next month.
His People of Freedom (PDL) party is hoping to form a centre-right coalition government with another party after elections on February 24-25, but have not named a candidate for prime minister.
Silvio Berlusconi stepped down from a third term as prime minister in November 2011, when he was replaced by the technocrat Mario Monti.
Silvio Berlusconi has stoked controversy by praising Benito Mussolini on Holocaust Memorial Day
“Obviously the government of [Benito Mussolini’s] time, out of fear that German power might lead to complete victory, preferred to ally itself with Hitler’s Germany rather than opposing it,” said Silvio Berlusconi, who heads a coalition that includes groups with fascist roots.
“The racial laws were the worst fault of Mussolini as a leader, who in so many other ways did well,” he added, referring to the 1938 laws that barred Jews from Italy’s universities and many professions.
The comments were swiftly condemned by the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), which is ahead in the polls.
“Our republic is based on the struggle against Nazi fascism and these are intolerable remarks which are incompatible with leadership of democratic political forces,” said PD spokesman Marco Meloni.
In previous controversial comments, Silvio Berlusconi has incurred the wrath of Queen Elizabeth II for talking too loudly at a photo-call, the Obamas, whom he described as “suntanned”, and the nation of China, by implying that Communist leader Mao Zedong boiled babies to fertilize fields.
A letter from Benito Mussolini’s son emerged this week claiming dictator had an affair with Marie-José, wife of heir to the Italy’s throne.
Not so many things have stayed secret about the tumultuous private life of Benito Mussolini. That is apart from the true nature of his relationship with the woman who was to be Italy’s last queen, Marie-José of Belgium.
In 1937, Mussolini‘s mistress, Claretta Petacci, claimed in her diary that the then princess and wife of the heir to the throne, Marie-José tried and failed to seduce the dictator at a beach resort near Rome.
But Marie-José may have been more successful than her rival suspected, if evidence that emerged on this week is to be believed.
Queen Marie-José and Benito Mussolini
In a letter reproduced by the weekly magazine Oggi, Benito Mussolini’s son, Romano, quotes his mother as saying that there was a “brief period of intimate romantic relations between my father and the then princess of Piedmont”.
Marie-José, born in 1906, was the daughter of the Belgian king, Albert I. While still a child, it was decided that she should marry into the Italian royal family and in 1930 she wed Umberto of Savoy, the only son of King Victor Emmanuel.
By the marriage was not a happy one, and Marie-José separated from Umberto after the Italian monarchy was abolished by referendum in 1946. Marie-José lived for most of the rest of her life in Switzerland where she died in 2001.
In contrast to the Savoy family, Marie-José had little time for fascism and during the Second World War made a failed attempt to broker a peace treaty with the United States.
But she had time for Mussolini. It was very well known that Mussolini was compulsively promiscuous: by one account, he had sex with at least one woman a day at his office in Palazzo Venezia for almost 14 years until the collapse of his regime in 1943.
According to Claretta Petacci’s diaries from the period, Benito Mussolini told her that the princess Marie-José had tried to seduce him at Castelporziano, a coastal area south of Rome where the king had made available to him a hunting estate in which the Italian dictator entertained many of his lovers.
Claretta Petacci’s quoted the fascist leader as saying:
“Marie-José came and said <<May I?>>. Then, with a small movement her dress fell and she was there virtually naked.”
But Petacci records Benito Mussolini reassuring her that he found the princess “repulsive” and that she had made “no impression on me at all”.
But the letter written by Mussolini’s youngest son in 1971 to Antonio Terzi, a former deputy editor of the newspaper Corriere della Sera, showed a different picture.
“I can confirm in all good faith that the romantic and political relations between Marie-José and my father were often talked about at home, and I can tell you with honesty that my mother (albeit with understandable reservations) was always pretty explicit: there was a brief period of intimate romantic relations between my father and the then Princess of Piedmont that was then I believe interrupted at the instance of my father.”
The Oggi report from this week said the letter was found among the journalist’s papers by his son and that Romano Mussolini’s widow had judged it authentic.
Though discredited by his support for Mussolini, King Victor Emmanuel clung on to his throne after the dictator’s fall, only abdicating in favor of Umberto in May 1946. Umberto ruled for only 34 days, earning for himself the sobriquet “the May King“.