Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) ripped Donald Trump for his “ambivalence” toward white supremacists on Tuesday, after Trump hesitated to disavow the support of David Duke.
McConnell condemned the racism of Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, “in the most forceful way” before taking other questions.
“There’s been a lot of talk the last 24 hours or so about one of our presidential candidates and his seeming ambivalence about David Duke and the KKK, so let me make it perfectly clear,” McConnell said.
“Senate Republicans condemn David Duke, the KKK and his racism. That is not the view of Republicans that have been elected to the United States Senate, and I condemn his comments in the most forceful way.”
Trump sparked an uproar on Sunday when he was asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper about support for his campaign from Duke and other white supremacists. Trump said he didn’t know anything about Duke or white supremacists and would have to “do research” on their groups. It was later revealed that Trump had discussed Duke in the past, contradicting his claim that he did not know about him.
Trump later claimed that his earpiece malfunctioned during Tapper’s question, saying that he did disavow Duke’s support.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, similarly blasted Trump without naming him on Tuesday.
“Today, I want to be very clear about something,” Ryan said. “If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry.”