President Trump declined to condemn white supremacist groups during Tuesday night’s presidential debate, even when repeatedly pressed to do so.
In a discussion of protests and violence in cities, moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he was willing to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and tell them to stand down and not contribute to the violence.
“What do you want to call it?” asked Trump, seeking clarification on what he was supposed to be condemning.
“White supremacists and right-wing militia,” said Wallace.
Former Vice President Joe Biden suggested that Trump specifically condemn the Proud Boys, a group of self-described “Western chauvinists” whose members appeared alongside white supremacist groups at the 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville and have been a consistent presence during more recent clashes in Portland, Ore.
“Proud Boys? Stand back and stand by,” Trump said, before immediately pivoting, “But I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.” The Proud Boys quickly embraced the moment on Telegram, an encrypted messaging service popular among extremist groups, posting clips of the president’s comment and even circulating an image with Trump’s quote superimposed over their logo.