President Donald Trump has condemned white supremacists a number of times, Vice President Mike Pence said during Wednesday night’s debate.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the Democrat vice presidential nominee, accused Trump of refusing to condemn white supremacists while debating Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden last week.
“The reality of this is that we are talking about an election in 27 days where last week the president of the United States took a debate stage in front of 70 million Americans and refused to condemn white supremacists,” she said while debating Pence in Salt Lake City.
The exchange in question involved Trump being asked to condemn “white supremacists and militias,” to which Trump said “sure” several times. Critics said the president did not condemn white supremacists that night.
Several days later, Trump left no doubt.
“I have to say, I’ve said it many times, and let me be clear again: I condemn the KKK. I condemn all white supremacists. I condemn the Proud Boys. I don’t know much about the Proud Boys, almost nothing, but I condemn that,” he said.
Pence told Harris that her accusation wasn’t true, but she pressed on.
“And it wasn’t like he didn’t have a chance. He didn’t do it. And then he doubled down. And then he said, when pressed, ‘stand back, stand by.’ And this is a part of a pattern of Donald Trump’s,” she added.
Trump told the Proud Boys, a right-wing group that has been involved in violence at rallies in the past, to “stand back” and “stand by.”
Harris tried linking Trump’s debate remarks to what he said after the 2017 clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, between two groups, one of which contained some white supremacists, including one who killed a woman with a car.
“He, on the issue of Charlottesville, where people were peacefully protesting the need for racial justice, where a young woman was killed, and on the other side, there were neo-Nazis carrying Tiki torches, shouting racial epithets, anti-Semitic slurs, and Donald Trump when asked about it said, ‘There were fine people on both sides,'” Harris said.
“This is who we have as the president of the United States and America, you deserve better. Joe Biden will be a president who brings our country together.”
Trump told reporters shortly after the Charlottesville clashes, “You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”
He later added: “You had people—and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists—because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people. But you also had troublemakers, and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets, and with the baseball bats. You had a lot of bad people in the other group.”
Some people in Charlottesville were protesting against the proposed removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the deceased general of the Confederacy.
Pence accused Harris of a “selective edit.”
“I mean, Senator Harris conveniently omitted, after the president made comments about people on either side of the debate over monuments, he condemned the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists and has done so repeatedly,” he said.
“You’re concerned that he doesn’t condemn neo-Nazis. President Trump has Jewish grandchildren. His daughter and son-in-law are Jewish. This is a president who respects and cherishes all of the American people.”