Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence would not call former KKK leader David Duke "deplorable" in an interview with CNN on Monday.
Pence and CNN's Wolf Blitzer were discussing comments Hillary Clinton made on Friday, during which the Democratic presidential nominee called half of Donald Trump's supporters a "basket of deplorables" as she pointed to racist, anti-Islam, anti-gay, sexist, or xenophobic opinions.
The Trump campaign described Clinton's comments as an attack on American voters and called for her to retract her statement or drop out of the race. On Monday, Blitzer asked Pence about Trump's supporters who are proud of being white nationalists. A number of prominent white nationalists have said publicly they're backing Trump, among them former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.
"There are some supporters of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, David Duke for example, and some other white nationalists, who would fit into that category of deplorables, right?" Blitzer asked.
"I'm not really sure why the media keeps dropping David Duke's name," Pence replied. "Donald Trump has denounced David Duke repeatedly, we don't want his support, and we don't want the support of people who think like him."
"So you call him a deplorable?" Blizter asked.
"No, I'm not in the name-calling business, Wolf," Pence said. "You know me better than that."
Duke later told BuzzFeed News he was pleased with Pence's comments.
Duke has released robocalls in support of Trump and encouraged listeners of his radio show to volunteer for the campaign. Trump in February disavowed Duke, but the white nationalist leader later said he still believes Trump could support his candidacy for a Senate seat.
Claudia Koerner is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Claudia Koerner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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