After Mike Pence repeatedly dodged, ducked, deflected and danced around questions about Donald Trump’s defense of neo-Nazis, KKK, and other violent white supremacists who rioted in Charlottesville, Today Show host Matt Lauer called out the Vice President for continuing to defend the indefensible. Lauer noted Trump’s comments have been denounced by Republicans, business leaders, and military officers — nearly everyone except for the Vice President, further illustrating that there’s no daylight between Trump and Pence.
“There’s no daylight between Trump and Pence, particularly when it comes to turning a blind eye to white supremacists,” said American Bridge Vice President Shripal Shah. “Trump’s racism is officially defining his administration, destroying his legislative agenda, and it exposing Mike Pence’s own moral failings along the way.”
Lauer: Let me ask you about other items in the news. Mr. Vice President, have you ever met a neo-Nazi or a white nationalist or a white supremacist that you consider to be a fine person?
Pence: Never in my life, have I met anyone associated with white supremacist or the KKK or neo-Nazi movement, that would I have anything other than contempt for.
Lauer: So when the president made the comments…
Pence: Honestly, Matt, I can’t remember meeting people in that category. I see them on television. and as the president has made clear, we have denounced those organizations.
Lauer: But the president has said that there were fine people on both sides of that rally in Charlottesville, so when he said those words, you obviously didn’t agree with them, did they offend you, those words?
Lauer: Obviously, the president said he thought there were fine people on both sides of that rally in Charlottesville, so when he said that, you just told me you don’t agree with that, did those words offend you?
Pence: The President and I were very clear last week in the wake of the terribly tragic events in Charlottesville that we denounce bigotry and hatred and violence in all its forms.
Lauer: But he said there were fine people on both sighs of that rally.
Pence: Matt, the President specifically denounced white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK repeatedly. And he did it when he denounced hate and violence on Saturday, he did it in his address to the nation Monday, and he did it again in press conference Tuesday. There was no moral equilivancy drawn by the President.
Lauer: And yet when David Duke heard the comments made by the President on Charlottesville, he thanked the President. How can you be thanked by David Duke, a white supremacist, and not be on completely the wrong side of the issue.
Pence: I can’t account for the views of that person or their opinions. The President disavowed David Duke long ago, and we disavow him as well. The point is, what I think is disconcerting to the American people, are first views of the bigots, that again in his speech last night the president rejected, he likened America to our military personnel and he said when one has patriotism in your heart, there’s no room for bigotry or hatred. And that’s the core of this President, the core of this administration.
Lauer: You’re a loyal defender of this President and you should be commended for that, other top Republican leaders have rebuked him, top military leaders rebuked him, business leaders have rebuked him for his comments on Charlottesville and you continue to defend him. Are you putting your loyalty above and in front of what’s in your heart and your gut?
Pence: I know this president. I know his heart, and I heard him, I heard him on the day that the Charlottesville tragedy had happened when he denounced hate and violence in all ofits forms, from wherever it comes. I heard him on that Mondayand I heard him as well on Tuesday, like millions of Americans did, where he condemned the hate and the bigotry that was evidenced there, he condemned the violence that was there…
Lauer: but went back to say there was blame on both sides.
Pence: … we’ll continue to do that. We understand. We understand that criticism comes with this job and this President has the kind of broad shoulders to be able to take it. But last night, what I thought what you heard the President do in addition to announcing a new strategy….
Lauer: Alright …
Pence: …. that we believe is going to advance the security and the safety of the American people, advance stability in south Asia for this generation and the next, what I think you also heard the president do, what he will continue to do, is call America to unity. We need to come together around our soldiers, we need to come together around the most vulnerable, we need to come together because as the president says, when we’re united, there’s nothing the people of the United States can’t accomplish.
Lauer: I can sit and talk to you about this for a couple of hours but they are telling me it is time to wrap so I will say Vice President Pence its a pleasure, thank you for your time this morning.
Pence: Thank you, Matt.