Donald Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, again refused to repudiate former KKK leader David Duke and other white nationalists, telling CNN on Monday that he wasn’t “in the business of name calling.”
Asked by Wolf Blitzer whether he thought Duke and his far-right cohort fell into what Hillary Clinton called “basket of deplorables,” Pence played Switzerland.
“As I told you the last time I was on, I’m not sure why the media keeps dropping David Duke’s name,” Pence said. “Donald Trump has denounced David Duke repeatedly. We don’t want his support, and we don’t want the support of people who think that.”
Pressed on whether he would simply call Duke a “deplorable” person, Pence, again, played coy.
“I’m not in name-calling business, Wolf,” he said. “You know me better than that. What Hillary Clinton did Friday night was shocking. I mean the millions of people who support Donald Trump after not a basket of anything. They are Americans and they deserve the respect of the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. For her to rattle off a litany of pejoratives is just really shocking.”
Pence did not, however, take issue with Trump’s litany of pejoratives, like calling Mexicans rapists, proposing a ban on Muslims entering the country or calling his rival “Crooked Hillary.”
Clinton has been under fire recently for saying that half of Trump’s supporters fit into a “basket of deplorables.”
“To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables,” Clinton told a crowd doing a New York City fundraiser on Friday. “Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.”
Clinton has since walked back those comments, saying she regretted the “half” part.
While it’s easy to blame the media, critics have argued that Trump has repeatedly been slow to distance himself from Duke. In February, Trump was asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper whether he would disavow Duke and other white supremacist groups that are supporting his campaign. “Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK?” Trump said, adding, “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.”
Trump later blamed a “bad earpiece” for not being able to hear the question. But critics were quick to point out that he seemed to hear just fine, considering he mentioned Duke and white supremacists in his answer.