During a press conference on Capitol Hill this morning, Donald Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, again refused to call Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke “deplorable.”
On Monday, Pence was criticized for comments he made during a CNN interview, during which he denounced David Duke but would not say that he is deplorable. Asked about that this morning, Pence reiterated that same sentiment.
“The simple fact is that I’m not in the name calling business,” Pence said. “My colleagues in the House of Representatives know that I believe that civility is essential in a vibrant democracy, and it’s just never been my practice. But I’m also not going to validate the language that Hillary Clinton used to describe the American people.”
Pence is referring to Hillary Clinton’s recent comment that about half of Trump’s supporters belong in a “basket of deplorables.” The Indiana governor said on Tuesday that Clinton should apologize for these “deeply insulting” remarks.
David Duke, a former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, has expressed support for Donald Trump, recently saying in a robocall that Americans need to “stand up and vote for Donald Trump for president.” He is currently running for Louisiana Senate as a Republican. When initially asked about David Duke back in March, Donald Trump would not disavow him and said that he did not know anything about Duke. Since then, Trump and Pence have both denounced Duke, saying they don’t want the votes of people who think like him.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Duke said he was pleased to see Pence refuse to call him deplorable this week.
“It’s good to see an individual like Pence and others start to reject this absolute controlled media,” he said. “The truth is that the Republican Party in Louisiana — I received the vast majority of Republican votes for United States senator before and for governor before that in my state. The truth is the Republican Party is big tent. I served in the Republican caucus. I was in the Republican caucus in the legislature. I had a perfect Republican voting record. It’s ridiculous that they attack me because of my involvement in that nonviolent Klan four decades ago.”