Louisiana Senate candidate and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke says he's pleased that vice presidential nominee Mike Pence declined to call him "deplorable" in an interview on Monday.
"It's good to see an individual like Pence and others start to reject this absolute controlled media," Duke told BuzzFeed News. "The truth is that the Republican Party in Louisiana — I received the vast majority of Republican votes for United States senator before and for governor before that in my state. The truth is the Republican Party is 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."
In an appearance on CNN on Monday, Pence was asked about Duke's support of his running mate Donald Trump. Pence replied, "We don't want his support and we don't want the support of the people who think like him."
Asked if Duke is "deplorable," Pence said, "I'm not in the name-calling business."
The question was asked in the context of Hillary Clinton's comments over the weekend that "half" of Trump's supporters are "deplorable." She has since said she regretted using the term "half."
Clinton's campaign quickly responded to Pence's interview, tweeting from her account, "If you won’t say the KKK is deplorable, you have no business running the country."
Duke said it was hypocritical of Clinton to tweet that Pence would need to condemn him, because Clinton served with West Virginia Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, who was in the Klan in the 1940s (Byrd publicly renounced his past involvement, and upon his death, the NAACP issued a statement praising him).
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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