Republican VP candidate Mike Pence reiterates ticket’s disavowal of David Duke

Marcy Oster

Donald Trump and Indiana Governor Mike Pence onstage during a campaign rally at Grant Park Event Center in Westfield, Indiana, July 12, 2016. (Tasos Katopodis/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence at a campaign rally in Westfield, Ind., July 12, 2016. (Tasos Katopodis/AFP/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence reiterated that he and Donald Trump have repeatedly denounced white supremacist leader David Duke following criticism over an interview in which he declined to label Duke “deplorable.”

During an interview Monday, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Pence if he would consider Duke deplorable. Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, has expressed support for Trump’s candidacy.

The question came on the heels of a campaign speech late last week in which Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said “half” of Donald Trump’s supporters belonged in a “basket of deplorables.”

Responding to the Blitzer query, Pence said: “No, I’m not in the name-calling business, Wolf. You know me better than that.

“I’m not really sure why the media keeps dropping David Duke’s name. 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.”

Later, Pence said in an interview with Fox News, “Donald Trump and I have repeatedly denounced David Duke,” reiterating that the campaign does not want his support.

In an interview posted Tuesday on Buzzfeed, Duke, who is running for the Louisiana Senate, praised Pence for not calling him deplorable during the CNN interview.

“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 the Republican Party is a 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 February, Trump demurred when asked to disavow Duke’s support before doing so — claiming he had misunderstood the original question. Since then, Trump has disavowed Duke multiple times.

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