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Republicans Aren't Happy With Trump's Debate Performance

Igor Bobic
·2-min read

Republican lawmakers found President Donald Trump’s performance in the first presidential debate against Democratic nominee Joe Biden lacking, especially when it came to his refusal to unequivocally condemn white supremacists and militia groups.

Debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox Newsasked Trump on Tuesday night if he was willing to condemn white supremacists and tell them to “stand down” in cities such as Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Portland, Oregon, where heavily armed far-right extremists have shown up to anti-racism demonstrations as counterprotesters.

“I’m willing to do that,” Trump said.

But after prodding from both Wallace and Biden, who suggested he condemn a violent neo-fascist street gang known as the Proud Boys, the president appeared to be unwilling after all. Instead, he said the group should “stand back and stand by,” a comment that stirred widespread criticism from both sides of the aisle and caused celebration among the group’s members.

GOP senators on Wednesday gingerly urged Trump to rectify his statement.

“I think he misspoke. I think he should correct it,” Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only Black Republican senator, told reporters on Capitol Hill.

“If he doesn’t correct it, I guess he didn’t misspeak,” he added.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he agreed with Scott.

“He said it was unacceptable not to condemn white supremacists. And so I do so in the strongest possible way,” McConnell said during a press conference on Capitol Hill.

As he left the White House on Wednesday for a campaign event in Minnesota, Trump claimed he was unfamiliar with the Proud Boys.

“Whoever they are, they need to stand down,” the president told reporters.

Earlier on Wednesday, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said he was “hoping for more clarity” from Trump about his views regarding extremists and militia groups.

“He should have made it very clear that there’s no room for people on the far-left...

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