Trump Campaign Press Sec Tried to Claim Trump Condemned White Supremacists at the Debate and It Totally Backfired
The first presidential debate of the 2020 election cycle took place on Tuesday night and the deterioration in substantive political discourse over the past four years was put on full display.
President Donald Trump repeatedly interrupted both his opponent—Democratic nominee Joe Biden—and moderator Chris Wallace, despite multiple reprimands.
Trump targeted Biden's family, his mental acuity, and his experience in government, but another grim highlight of the chaotic debate came when Trump was asked if he'd disavow white supremacists—many of whom are his supporters.
In which Donald Trump refuses to denounce white supremacists. A disgrace. #Debate2020 pic.twitter.com/bKo7QKDCo8
— Complex (@Complex) September 30, 2020
The President said he would be willing condemn white supremacists, but when asked by both Wallace and Biden to explicitly disavow them, he pivoted to blaming Democrats for the violence.
"Proud Boys? Stand back and stand by, but I'll tell you what, I'll tell you what, somebody's gotta do something about antifa and the left."
The Proud Boys are a "western chauvinist" militia and designated hate group, some of whose members helped plan the infamous Unite the Right rally of racists and neo-Nazis in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, which resulted in the murder of Heather Heyer. They've since become infamous for inciting violence at peaceful protests against racial injustice.
People were disgusted that Trump, yet again, displayed a softness toward racism, even after the historic uprisings against racist police brutality Americans saw earlier this summer.
On Wednesday, the Trump campaign's press secretary Hogan Gidley appeared on CNN, where he claimed to anchor John Berman that Trump did in fact condemn white supremacists multiple times.
Trump Campaign Press Sec. Hogan Gidley claims Trump *did* condemn white supremacists "three times in the one clip you just played."
CNN's John Berman pushes back: "The president said yes I will ... and then the president didn't do it." pic.twitter.com/uuvbdHrVIO
— The Recount (@therecount) September 30, 2020
"When he was asked would he disavow them, would he condemn them, he said 'sure' three times in that one clip you just played. I don't know how many other ways you want him to condemn these types of groups."
Berman responded by noting the distinction between Trump saying he'd be willing to condemn them, but not actually condemning them.
"One way you can do it, Hogan, is say, 'I condemn them.' So what Chris Wallace did in this exchange, he said, 'Will you condemn them?' And the president said, 'Yes, I will.' Then Wallace said, "Okay, then do it.' And then the president didn't."
Berman and the many Americans watching weren't the only ones who took the President's lack of condemnation as a sign of approval.
The Proud Boys themselves were giddy at what they took as the President's endorsement.
New York Times correspondent Mike Baker shared public messages between some of the group's members who saw the President's call to "stand by" as a call to prepare for more violence against protesters.
They've even started incorporating the President's words into their logos.
The Proud Boys are now sharing the group's logo with the president's words emblazoned like a slogan. pic.twitter.com/T3tp286YRa
— Mike Baker (@ByMikeBaker) September 30, 2020
People thought Gidley was delusional to say that Trump forcefully condemned white supremacists on Tuesday's debate.
Excuse me Hogan, but even the white supremacists think he was supportive of them. You cannot clean up this disaster by lying.
— stillngam 💐 (@stillngam) September 30, 2020
“Sure, I'll do it" is NOT a condemnation.
— Some Grace 🇦🇲 (@What_the_whaat) September 30, 2020
My favorite is when they tell us we didn't hear WHAT WE JUST HEARD!!!🤬🤬🤬
— Slategray Cat (@Slategraycat88) September 30, 2020
Hogan has been studying at the Trump University of blather.
— Jill Leonhardt (@JillLeonhardt) September 30, 2020
He said “sure" three times to that question. Doesn't really strike me or most sane people as a condemnation
— 7thof9 (@5fabmeows) September 30, 2020
Trump's refusal to disavow them continues to make waves.
I waited for the President & the White House to condemn white supremacists the day after the mass shooting in El Paso, my hometown. Never happened. Last night Trump doubled down-energizing white supremacists once again-while claiming he supports “law & order". He is one sick man.
— Olivia of Troye (@OliviaTroye) September 30, 2020
Well that's a stunning statement. So Santorum agrees that white supremacists are an important part of Trump's base? https://t.co/zMsHG9wsHe
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) September 30, 2020
To the people who ask if Trump is dog-whistling to white supremacists: he's dog-whistling through a bullhorn. pic.twitter.com/UEMkyXyCKD
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) September 30, 2020
The next debate will be held on October 15.