Republican Senator Mitt Romney said ‘of course’ President Donald Trump should have condemned white supremacists during the presidential debate Tuesday night.
‘Of course, of course,’ Romney, who’s openly criticized Trump when he disagrees with the president, told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning.
‘It was not a Lincoln Douglas debate, that’s for sure,’ he added of the clash between Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden that pundits dubbed a ‘s*** show’ and ‘dumpster fire.’
And Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who is in a tough re-election bid, said Trump should ‘absolutely’ condemn white supremacy.
Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden during the 90 minute debate, much to the frustration of the Democratic nominee and moderator Chris Wallace.
The night ended up in verbal irruption and irruption with talk it was one of the worst presidential debates in history.
In one of the night’s many stand out moments, Trump declined to condemn white supremacists and civilian militias when asked. The president then appeared to issue a call to arms to the Proud Boys, a militant group of mostly white men.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney said ‘of course’ President Donald Trump should have condemned white supremacists during the presidential debate
Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina said President Trump should clarify his remarks on white supremacists made in the presidential debate
Brian Kilmeade (right), one of the co-hosts of Trump’s favorite morning show ‘Fox & Friends,’ said President Trump needs to clarify his words
Author Bob Woodward said of Trump: ‘I don’t want to overstate this, but he is assassinating the presidency’
Some of the president’s other supporters also said he missed out on the chance to condemn such hate groups, including Brian Kilmeade, one of the co-hosts of Trump’s favorite morning show ‘Fox & Friends.’
‘Donald Trump ruined the biggest layup in the history of debates by not condemning white supremacists,’ Kilmeade said on the cable news morning show Wednesday.
‘I don’t know if he didn’t hear it, but he’s gotta clarify that right away,’ he added. ‘Why the president didn’t just knock it out of the park, I’m not sure.’
And Bob Woodward, who conducted multiple interviews with Trump for ‘Rage,’ his book on the Trump presidency, had harsher words.
‘I don’t want to overstate this, but he is assassinating the presidency,’ he said of Trump on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe.’
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Trump’s longtime nemesis, said she was praying for the president.
‘This is so tragic, because I pray for him every day. I pray for the personal security of him and his family. I pray that God will open his heart to the goodness of the American people so that we can come together,’ she said on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe.’
Other Republicans said they would give the president a chance to explain, including Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black GOP senator.
‘I think he misspoke in response to Chris Wllace’s comment,’ Scott said on Capitol Hill Wednesday. ‘He was asking Chris what he wanted to say. I think he misspoke. I think he should correct it. If he doesn’t correct it I guess he didn’t misspeak.’
Republican Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska agreed: ‘I think the President has strong performance. But I also believe that he needs to be clear about his stand against white supremacy. It’s important. I said that over and over again and I think he needs to clarify that.’
And Republican Senator Todd Young of Indiana said the president should have been clear that extremist groups from both the left and right should be condemned.
‘He should have been very clear, and he should have made it very clear that there’s no room for people on the far left or the far more far right. When it comes to either an antifa or these white supremacist groups should have been very clear,’ Young said.
Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee agreed.
‘I think it’s important to say no extremist, left or right, that’s not permitted,’ she said.
And Hogan Gidley, the spokesman for the Trump campaign, said the president condemned them three times during the debate.
‘He did call them out. He has condemned them,’ Gidley said on CNN. ‘He said sure three times.’
President Trump told the Proud Boys to ‘stand back and stand by’ when he was challenged to condemn them during Tuesday’s presidential debate.
He also attacked antifa instead and said the protests in the country on race relations were a left-wing problem.
‘Proud Boys, stand back and stand by, but I tell you what, somebody has got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right wing problem, this is a left-wing problem,’ Trump said.
Proud Boys is a far-right and neo-fascist organization that admits only men as members and promotes and engages in political violence. The group believes white men and western culture are under siege.
One member of the group tweeted their pride at being mentioned and said the president gave them permission for violence.
‘The Proud Boys are ecstatic tonight about getting mentioned in the debate tonight. ‘Trump basically said to go f*** them up! this makes me so happy,’ writes one prominent Proud Boy,’ Mike Baker tweeted.
Joe Biden retweeted that person, writing: ‘This. This is Donald Trump’s America.’
Trump has been accused of being a racist after his defense of the Confederate Flag and his criticism of the Black Lives Matters protests that sprung up in the wake of George Floyd’s death – the Minnesota black man murdered by a white cop.
President Donald Trump told white supremacists to ‘stand back and stand by’ when he was challenged to condemn them
‘Patriot Gathering’ of a few hundred heavily armed nationalists met at Carrie Gaulbert Cox Park and marched in downtown Louisville earlier this month
Debate moderator Chris Wallace asked the president if he would condemn white supremacists and militia groups.
‘I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing,’ Trump said.
Wallace asked him to clarify what he meant.
‘I’m willing to do anything, I want to see peace,’ Trump said.
‘Then do it, sir,’ Wallace challenged.
‘What do you want to call them? Give me a name, give me a name,’ Trump said.
‘White supremacist and right wing militias,’ Wallace said.
Instead, Trump turned to attack antifa, an unorganized group opposed to extreme right-wing political groups like fascists.
‘Proud boys, stand back and stand by, but I tell you what, somebody has got to do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right wing problem, this is a left-wing problem,’ he said.
But antifa is not an organization – it’s a political idea that many different groups support. And law enforcement has found no evidence these groups were working with the Black Lives Matter protesters in cities across the United States.
Trump has declined to call out the citizen militias that have sprung up during the protests as he declined to do Tuesday night.
‘Antifa is an idea not an organization. His FBI director said,’ Biden said.
‘Antifa is a dangerous, radical,’ Trump started saying as Wallace interrupted him to say they were moving on to another topic.
But the president got in one last zinger on antifa: ‘They’ll overthrow you.’
Race relations, like other debate topics, resulted in a furious back-and-forth, shouting over each other conversation between the presidential contenders.
The debate on racial relations got so bad that at one point Joe Biden called Trump a ‘racist’
At one point in the night, Biden called Trump a ‘racist’ when the two men debated race relations in the country.
Trump was defending his decision to end racial sensitivity training for federal workers when his Democratic rival hit him with the ‘racist’ label.
The president said the training was resulting in ‘very sick ideas’ and teaching people ‘to hate our country.’
‘If you look at the people, we were paying people hundreds of thousands of dollars to teach very bad ideas and frankly, very sick ideas. It really, they were teaching people to hate our country. And I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to allow that to happen. We have to go back to the core values of this country,’ Trump said.
‘Nobody is doing that. He’s racist,’ Biden said.
He defended the training programs.
‘The fact is there is racial insensitivity. People have to be made aware of what other people feel like. What insults them, what is it demeaning to them. It’s important to people. Now, many people don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings, but it makes a big difference,’ he said.
And then he pivoted it to emphasize his blue-collar roots and hinted Trump is a snob.
‘It makes a gigantic difference in the way a child is able to grow up and have a sense of self-esteem. It’s a little bit like how this guy and his friends look down on so many people and look down their nose on people like Irish catholics like me who grew up in Scranton. They looked down on people who don’t have money, they looked down on people who are of a different faith,’ he said.
As the two men bickered on race, Biden invoked the death of Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests that sprung up in the wake. Trump invoked his ‘law and order’ presidency.
The president has accused Biden on multiple occasions of wanting to defund the police, which Biden has said he would not do.
During the debate, the Democratic nominee said most police officers are ‘good’ but the bad ones need to be rooted out.
‘The vast majority of police officers are good, they risk their lives every day to take care of us, but there are some bad apples and when they occur, when they find them they have to be sorted out,’ Biden said.
‘Cops aren’t happy to see what happened to George Floyd. These cops aren’t happy to see what happened to Breonna Taylor. Most don’t like it, but we have to have a system where people are held accountable. And by the way, violence and response is never appropriate. Never appropriate. Peaceful protest is. Violence is never appropriate,’ he said of protests.
Trump hit back: ‘What is peaceful protest? When they run through the middle of the town and burn down stores and kill people all over the place? That is not peaceful protest.’
The president also has complained Biden hasn’t said he’s for ‘law and order,’ a phrase Trump has used to define his presidency.
‘They don’t want to talk about law and order. Are you in favor of law and order?,’ he asked Biden.
‘I’m in favor of law,’ Biden said.
But he attacked Trump’s approach of handling racial unrest across America.
‘The point is that is why he keeps trying to rile everything up. He doesn’t want to calm things down. Instead of going in and talking to people and saying let’s get everybody together, figure out how to deal with this, what does he do? He just throws gasoline on the fire constantly. Every single solitary time,’ he said.