CNN's Cuomo spars with Kris Kobach over whether Trump's tweet was racist

CNN host Chris CuomoChristopher (Chris) Charles CuomoMedia's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle Tucker Carlson delivers program's largest audience during Iranian missile strike coverage Judge Judy dismisses Biden: 'Do you see greatness?' MORE pressed former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach on Tuesday over why more Republicans have not denounced as "racist" President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE's tweets telling four minority Democratic congresswomen to "go back" to their countries of origin.

In an interview on "Cuomo Prime Time," the GOP Kansas Senate hopeful denied that the wording of Trump's tweets earlier this week were racist, and responded "I don't know" when asked whether he would support Trump for president if Trump said publicly that he was racist.

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"When the president said ... that these congresswomen should go back to the crime-infested places from which they came, right?" Kobach said. "Well, where are those places? So in [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezBiden to go on Iowa tour with swing district lawmakers CNN cancels next week's Iowa town halls Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez hit back at JPMorgan CEO over comments on socialism: 'That's funny' MORE's] case it's the Bronx, in [Rep. Rashida] Tlaib's case it's Detroit, and in [Rep. Ilhan] Omar's case that's originally Somalia." 

Cuomo then interjected, noting that Trump did not say "places," but rather "countries," implying that three of the four women targeted by Trump — who also include Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyPressley says she 'would welcome the opportunity' to educate DeVos after abortion, slavery comparison Massachusetts governor apologizes after calling Pressley speech a 'rant' Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Donald Trump' if the US doesn't elect a progressive MORE (D-Mass.) — were not born in America.

"What would you do if the president said, 'I am a racist, that's why I said it'?" Cuomo asked later in the exchange.

"Then I would not defend him, because there is no excuse for racism in America," Kobach responded.

"Would you still support him as president?" Cuomo fired back.

"Um, I don't know, that would be a really tough question," Kobach said.

"You have to think about it?" Cuomo responded incredulously. "You have to think about whether or not you would support a racist?"

The exchange comes as Kobach has launched a bid for the GOP nomination for Kansas's Senate seat held by retiring Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate fails to get deal to speed up fight over impeachment rules Juan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump Senate GOP hopes to move new NAFTA deal before impeachment trial MORE (R). His bid is facing resistance from some members of the Republican Party establishment after his failed run for governor last year.

An outspoken supporter of Trump, Kobach previously served on the president's now-shuttered voter fraud commission.