Vice President Mike Pence denounced white supremacists Sunday night as “dangerous fringe groups” and said President Trump shares his views.
Referring to weekend violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a man drove a car into a crowd of demonstrators, killing one person and injuring many others, Mr. Pence said the administration clearly rejects the ideology of white supremacists.
“We have no tolerance for hate and violence from white supremacists, neo-Nazis or the KKK,” Mr. Pence said at a press conference in Cartagena, Colombia. “These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate, and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms.”
The vice president also criticized those who have accused Mr. Trump of not speaking out strongly enough against the white supremacist movement in the U.S. Mr. Trump said Saturday that the violence must stop “on many sides” but didn’t single out the white supremacists who are being blamed for provoking confrontations.
“I take issue with the fact that many in the national media spent more time criticizing the president’s words than they did criticizing those that perpetrated the violence to begin with,” Mr. Pence said. “We should be putting the attention where it belongs, and that is on those extremist groups that need to be pushed out of the public debate entirely and discredited for the hate groups and dangerous fringe groups that they are.”
He said Mr. Trump on Saturday “clearly and unambiguously condemned the bigotry, violence and hatred which took place on the streets of Charlottesville.”
“The president also made clear that behavior by others of different militant perspectives [is] also unacceptable in our political debate and discourse,” the vice president said. “Our administration is bringing the full resources of the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the violence that ensued yesterday in Charlottesville, and we will hold them to account under the law.”
He said Mr. Trump’s call for unity on Saturday “was from the heart.”
“It was a sincere call, in these two divided times in our country, for those on the extremes to be dismissed and for the vast majority of Americans who cherish freedom, who cherish justice for all, to come together, in new and in renewed ways,” Mr. Pence said. “What happened in Charlottesville is a tragedy. What occurred there, as local and state officials have said, is in no way a reflection of the good and decent people of Charlottesville or of America.