Romney: Trump should have condemned white supremacists during debate

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said on Wednesday that President Trump should have condemned white supremacists during the first presidential debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

“Of course,” Romney told reporters when asked if Trump should have condemned white supremacists.

“I think he could have been more clear in repudiating any form of white supremacy,” the senator subsequently told reporters, adding that he thought the debate overall was an “embarrassment.”

Trump refused to denounce white supremacy during Tuesday’s night chaotic debate. 

Asked directly to denounce white supremacists and militia groups, Trump instead argued that “almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing.” When pressed on the far-right Proud Boys group specifically, the president said, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”

Trump’s remarks sparked near immediate backlash from Democrats, while far right groups immediately celebrated his comments online. 

Asked what impact he thought Trump’s remarks would have, Romney sidestepped, saying he wasn’t a “political pundit” but contrasted the debate with the tightly structured rules seen in a Lincoln-Douglas format, which follows specific time allotments for both candidates.

“I can’t tell you what impact that will have. I can say I watched the debate last night, it was not a Lincoln-Douglas debate, that’s for sure,” he said.

“I’m not going to give a lot of advice on debate, but when I heard at the very beginning, when Chris Wallace said here are going to be the rules, ‘two minutes for each side,’ and then open discussion, I thought oh my goodness. I don’t recall that ever being the format,” Romney added.

The campaigns agreed that each candidate would get two minutes of uninterrupted speaking time during the first debate in response to the questions given them. But those rules largely went out the window as soon as the debate started.

The event instead was marked by constant crosstalk, interruptions and several personal attacks during a raucous and chaotic clash between Trump and Biden, with moderator Chris Wallace struggling to keep control of the event. 

Wallace, early on in the debate, clashed with Trump, telling him, “Mr. President, I’m the moderator of this debate and I’d like you to let me ask my questions.”

—Updated at 1:43 p.m.

Tags 2020 Debates 2020 election Chris Wallace Donald Trump Joe Biden Mitt Romney

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