Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday called out his rival, Republican President Donald Trump, for failing to condemn white supremacists during their chaotic first debate.
“There’s no other way to put it. the President of the United States refused to disavow white supremacists on the debate stage last night” Biden said in a tweet.
Earlier, Biden pointed out in a retweet that the Proud Boys, a far-right group, were “ecstatic” about being mentioned by Trump in the debate and took his remarks as a call-to-arms.
In a heated back-and-forth about racism and policing, Trump was pressed repeatedly to denounce white supremacists and militia groups.
After initially answering “sure” Trump blamed most of the political violence in the country on left-wing groups, contradicting federal law enforcement.
“Who would you like me to condemn?” Trump said.
When Biden said the name of the far-right group, Trump responded: “Proud Boys – stand back and stand by”.
Members of the group hailed Trump’s words as an implicit endorsement of their violent tactics in private social media channels, with one person saying they had already seen a flood of new recruits, the New York Times reported.
Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, told the paper that the president had meant “he wants them to knock it off”.
Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr, told CBS News that his father might have misspoken.
The first presidential debate was marked by personal attacks and cross talk.
As Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden, the former vice president burst out: “Will you shut up, man?”.