If you are running for vice president of the United States and someone asks you if an overt white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader is "deplorable" there is only one correct answer: yes. Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence chose a different answer.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Pence on Monday if he would call former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, who has voiced support for the Donald Trump, "deplorable." Pence responded by saying "No, I'm not in the name-calling business, Wolf. You know me better than that." Pence also added that the campaign denounces Duke's support.
But, despite that qualification, David Duke is praising Mike Pence for his refusal to call Duke "deplorable." After the interview, Buzzfeed asked Duke about Pence's comments. “It’s good to see an individual like Pence and others start to reject this absolute controlled media,” Duke said. "The truth is the Republican Party is [a] 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.”
Duke has made the claim that he was part of a "nonviolent Klan" before in previous interviews. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Duke was charged and convicted with inciting a riot in 1976.
Pence's demurral was in response to a question about Hillary Clinton's assertion that half of Trump supporters are part of a "basket of deplorables."
After Pence's interview on CNN, the Clinton campaign pounced on the opportunity to castigate the vice-presidential nominee.
At a press conference in Washington, D.C. Tuesday morning Pence doubled down on his previous comments and called on Hillary Clinton to retract her claim about Trump supporters being a "basket of deplorables."