Tim Scott defends Trump’s ‘stand by’ comments: ‘He misspoke’

'If he doesn’t correct it,' he added about Trump's edict to the white-supremacist Proud Boys, 'I guess he didn’t misspeak.'

Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina defended President Donald Trump’s refusal to disavow white supremacist groups during Tuesday’s presidential debate.

“I think he misspoke in response to Chris Wallace’s comment … I think he misspoke, I think he should correct it,” Scott said early Wednesday in response to a question from assembled press before meeting with Seventh Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court.

“If he doesn’t correct it,” he added, “I guess he didn’t misspeak.”

During the debate, moderator Chris Wallace asked Trump if he was willing to condemn white supremacists and say that they need to stand down amid ongoing protests against police violence in the country. Wallace specifically pointed to Kenosha and Portland, where people have been killed during protests.

“Sure, I’m willing to (tell them to stand down), but I would say almost everything I see is from the left-wing, not from the right-wing. I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace,” Trump said.

Read More: Biden ad rips Trump for comparing Black shootings to a ‘choke’ in a game of golf

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said. “But I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what. Somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem.”

On Wednesday, the response from other GOP leaders was swift. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it is “unacceptable not to condemn white supremacists.”

Senator Lindsey Graham said that Trump should “make it clear Proud Boys is a racist organization antithetical to American ideals.”

Read More: Cuomo calls out Ted Cruz for Trump support: ‘The one who called your wife ugly’

When questioned by reporters on Wednesday afternoon, Trump claimed ignorance.

“I don’t know who the Proud Boys are,” Trump said. “I mean, you’ll have to give me a definition because I really don’t know who they are. I can only say they have to stand down; let law enforcement do their work.”

Later Wednesday, Trump campaigned in Minnesota, where polls have him trailing competitor Joe Biden by as many as 16 points.

Read More: Changes expected for next debate after first-round ugliness

In his speech, he spent an hour recounting the debate, declared himself triumphant and sought to cast Biden as weak.

“I’ve got news for Joe: If you ever became president, you have to deal with some of the toughest people in the world, and Chris Wallace is very, very easy by comparison, I will tell you,” Trump said. “I know them all.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!