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 PencePence says he hopes conservative majority on Supreme Court will restrict abortion access Federal judge to hear case of Proud Boy alleged Jan. 6 rioter seeking release from jail The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit MORE on Monday for refusing to call him “deplorable.”

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In a CNN interview on Monday, Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump 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.”