Republican Sen. Tim Scott said Wednesday that he believes President Donald Trump “needs to correct” comments from his debate with former Vice President Joe Biden, where Trump did not explicitly condemn White supremacists and violent right-wing groups.
Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, said, “White supremacy should be denounced at every turn. I think the president misspoke, and he needs to correct it.”
He added: “If he doesn’t correct it, I guess he didn’t misspeak.”
Scott, a supporter of Trump’s who spoke at the Republican National Convention, gave those remarks to reporters before heading into a meeting with Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
The White House declined to comment on the South Carolina senator’s remarks. But when asked earlier Wednesday about the president’s controversial comments at the debate, White House communications director Alyssa Farah said, “I don’t think that there’s anything to clarify.”
In the vicious, bare-knuckled brawl of a debate Tuesday night, Trump had been asked by the moderator, Fox News’ Chris Wallace, if he was willing to condemn White supremacists and right-wing militia members who have added to the recent civil unrest seen in U.S. cities.
“You have repeatedly criticized the (former) vice president for not calling out antifa and other left-wing groups, but are you willing tonight to condemn White supremacists and militia groups and say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland?” Wallace asked.
Trump initially said, “Sure, I’m willing to do that.” But when repeatedly prompted by Wallace and Biden to follow through and flatly condemn those groups, the president pivoted back to his denunciations of the left.
U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) meets with Judge Amy Coney Barrett (not pictured) , who has been nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 30, 2020.
Bonnie Cash | Reuters
“I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing,” Trump said.
Pressed by Wallace, Trump then said, “I’m willing to do anything — I want to see peace —”
Wallace cut in: “Well, then do it, sir.”
“Say it. Do it. Say it,” Biden added.
The president paused.
“You want to call ’em — what do you want to call ’em? Give me a name, give me a name, who would you like me to condemn?” Trump asked.
Wallace said, “White supremacists and right-wing militias.”
Biden added a specific group: The Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group.
“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by, but I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s gotta do something about antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem, this is a left-wing problem,” Trump said.
The Proud Boys celebrated Trump’s answer, with some members pledging allegiance to him on social media and quickly turning “stand back and stand by” into a slogan, NBC News reported.
Biden accused Trump in the debate of using “dog whistles and racism” in his rhetoric. The former vice president has said that Trump’s comments in the wake of a 2017 White nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia — that there were “very fine people on both sides” — are part of what spurred him to run in 2020.
Trump and his campaign have pushed a law-and-order message in the wake of massive protest movements against racial injustice that sprang up over the summer and have at times led to violence and rioting in cities.