RNC Chair Awkwardly Defends Trump, But Breaks From WH’s ‘Both Sides’ Line

Andrew Harnik/AP

Republican National Committee chair Ronna Romney McDaniel on Wednesday awkwardly defended President Donald Trump’s two-day-late condemnation of white supremacists and neo-Nazis, but broke from the White House line blaming “both sides” for violence that erupted at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Well, the President condemned the white supremacists and the KKK and the neo-Nazis unequivocally,” McDaniel said on ABC News’ “Good Morning America.”

“But it took 48 hours for him to do that,” David Muir pointed out.

“But he did it, and he should have and he did. And our party has across the board said this is unacceptable,” McDaniel said. “We have no place in our party at all for KKK, anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry. It has no place in the Republican party. There is no home here. We don’t want your vote. We don’t support you.”

McDaniel said it was “the beginning of what needs to be a larger conversation.”

“We are seeing this rhetoric ramp up, we are seeing more violence, and we need to take a stand against it,” she said. “When it comes to Charlottesville, the blame lays squarely at the KKK and the white supremacists who organized this rally and put together an entire event around hate and bigotry.”

“So you disagree with the President,” Muir pressed.

“I am saying the President did the right thing condemning it. I’m saying absolutely the events that transpired in Charlottesville were initiated by this white supremacist, KKK rally. It would not have happened if those people had not come together in hate. And there were peaceful protesters who did the right thing coming out against it,” McDaniel said. “I don’t think comparing blame works in this situation because we know what initiated the violence.”

Trump on Tuesday returned to his previous rhetoric blaming “both sides” for violence at the white supremacist rally, a flourish hailed by white supremacists as implicit support for their cause.

The Atlantic reported on Wednesday that the White House sent Republican members of Congress a memo asking them to defend Trump as “entirely correct” in his call for the “end of violence on all sides.”