Duke praises Pence for declining to call him 'deplorable'

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke praised GOP vice presidential nominee Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceWhite House crowd sings 'Happy Birthday' to Trump Trump won't say if he'd endorse Pence in 2024 Trump has discussed backing Amash challenger: report MORE on Monday for refusing to call him “deplorable.”

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In a CNN interview on Monday, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE’s running mate declined to call Duke “deplorable,” saying he won’t engage in “name-calling.” But Pence reiterated that the campaign denounces Duke’s support of the GOP ticket.

In the CNN interview, anchor Wolf Blitzer brought up Duke in the context of Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables" remark. 

"Would you call him deplorable?" Blitzer asked of Duke, a former grand wizard for the KKK. 

"No, I'm not in the name-calling business, Wolf. You know me better than that," Pence said. 

“It’s good to see an individual like Pence and others start to reject this absolute controlled media,” Duke told BuzzFeed after Pence followed up that interview with an appearance on Fox News. 

However, Pence added of Duke: "We don't want the support, and we don't want the support of people who think like him."

Duke, who is running for the open Louisiana Senate seat, condemned the Republican Party’s rejection of him and elaborated on his commitment to the party.

“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,” Duke said. “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 non-violent klan four decades ago.”

Clinton sparked a political firestorm over her comments on Friday for calling half of Trump’s supporters “deplorable,” but has since expressed regret using the word “half.”

The Democratic nominee quickly seized on Pence’s interview on Monday, tweeting, “If you won’t say the KKK is deplorable, you have no business running the country.”