When asked about by debate moderator, Chris Wallace, to denounce white supremacists – specifically the right wing group, The Proud Boys, who have escalated tensions at police brutality protests throughout the country, Trump was unable to do so.
Trump instead answered that he would tell the group “stand back and stand by”, which to many sounded more like a call for delayed action.
The shock of a sitting United States President refusing to denounce white supremacy during a presidential debate was disturbing to many. Many, not all.
South Carolina’s Tim Scott, for one, doesn’t think it’s a big deal, saying he believes Trump “misspoke”, and is hoping Trump corrects the record the first chance he gets: “I think he misspoke in response to Chris Wallace’s comment. He was asking Chris what he wanted [him] to say, I think he misspoke. I think he should correct it. If he doesn’t correct it, I guess he didn’t misspeak.”As Scott, the single black Republican senator, ponders the true meaning behind Trump’s very clear words, the Proud Boys have been riding a publicity high, after having the Commander In-Chief acknowledged them on national TV during a high-profile debate.
One group member posted on the messaging app Telegram, “F— it! Let’s go back to Portland.” Another posted a t-shirt with Trump’s words printed on them.
Despite the outrage towards Trump’s comments, unsurprisingly most Republicans leaders remain mum on the issue.