Pence responds to Trump remarks: 'I stand with the president'

Vice President Pence on Wednesday said he stands by President Trump following criticism of his remarks blaming the violence during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., on “both sides.”

“What happened in Charlottesville was a tragedy, and the president has been clear on this tragedy and so have I,” Pence told reporters on Wednesday. “I spoke at length about this heartbreaking situation on Sunday night in Colombia, and I stand with the president and I stand by those words.”

Pence was responding to a reporter's question about Trump's remarks on Charlottesville, where white nationalists held a rally and were met by counterprotesters. The reporter also asked Pence about Trump's claim that there were "fine people" on both sides.

Pence added that his family is praying for Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman who was killed in Charlottesville, and for the country.

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Heyer was killed when a man with ties to right-wing groups allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters.

"Our hearts are in Charlottesville," said Pence.

Pence spoke to reporters from Chile, the latest stop on a South American trip. The vice president, though, is cutting short the trip and is returning to the U.S. ahead of schedule on Thursday.

Trump was widely criticized by both Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday after he doubled down on his assertion that white nationalists and counterprotesters were both to blame for the violence at the rally, which was held to protest the removal of a Confederate statue.

At an impromptu press conference in Trump Tower, the president accused left-wing protesters of attacking white nationalists with "clubs." 

“What about the alt-left that came charging at the — as you say, the alt-right?” Trump asked. “Do they have any semblance of guilt? What about the fact they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. As far as I am concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.”

Trump's comments drew praise drew praise from David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader who attended Saturday’s rally.

“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa,” Duke tweeted.