Santorum: 'Huge mistake' for Trump not to condemn white supremacy at debate

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) on Wednesday said that it was a “huge mistake” for President TrumpDonald TrumpPence: Supreme Court has chance to right 'historic wrong' with abortion ruling Prosecutor says during trial that actor Jussie Smollett staged 'fake hate crime' Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE not to condemn white supremacy during the first presidential debate against Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenDearborn office of Rep. Debbie Dingell vandalized Pfizer to apply for COVID-19 booster approval for 16- and 17-year-olds: report Coronavirus variant raises fresh concerns for economy MORE.

Santorum said in an appearance on CNN’s “New Day” that Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacy was a “bad error,” saying the president has “condemned these groups before.”

“But for some reason, he didn’t and I think that was a huge gaffe,” the former senator said. “And it’s been typical of the president when he gets backed into a corner he doesn't like to be forced to say something.”

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“He made a huge mistake, and again you can’t say anything other than disappointed,” he added.

During the chaotic debate, the president declined to condemn white supremacy and militia groups that have aligned with him, when asked directly by moderator Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceBret Baier confirms his 'concerns' about Tucker Carlson's Jan. 6 documentary Rittenhouse says Biden defamed his character Surgeon general warns of uptick in COVID-19 cases as cold weather arrives MORE.

“Almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing,” he replied, asking Wallace to “give me a name.”

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Biden spoke up, mentioning the Proud Boys, a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a hate group.

“Proud Boys — stand back and stand by,” Trump said before redirecting his comments back to the left-wing movement called antifa.

In his interview, Santorum also attacked Biden, saying he “didn’t condemn his people” referring to antifa. The former senator slammed Biden for quoting FBI Director Christopher Wray and saying “antifa is an idea, not an organization.”

CNN “New Day” anchor Alisyn Camerota stopped Santorum, saying Biden “was quoting the FBI director.”

The former presidential hopeful responded, “I think the president was right in pointing out that the left is out there in Portland and lots of other places causing violence and was legitimate. And the fact that Biden didn’t go after his own was equally as reprehensible.”

Camerota pushed back, asking, “You think that Biden, who was quoting the FBI director, was the same as President Trump saying ‘stand by’ to the hardcore white supremacist group as the ADL labels them?”

Santorum dismissed the Anti-Defamation League as not credible, and when asked to describe the Proud Boys, he said, “I don’t know that much about them.”

The Proud Boys describe themselves as “a pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka Western Chauvinists.”