Former Trump National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster thinks President Trump fumbled during his off-the-rails debate against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by refusing to condemn white supremacists.
When asked by moderator Chris Wallace during the first presidential debate on Tuesday night whether he condemns white supremacy, Trump instead pivoted to directing the far-right hate group known as the “Proud Boys” to “stand back and stand by.” Following widespread backlash over his incendiary remark, the President attempted to walk back his remarks the next day by nonsensically claiming that he doesn’t know who the Proud Boys are.
In an interview published in The Atlantic on Thursday, McMaster said it was not an adequate response.
“No leader should encourage any group that is based on a narrow identity that aims to supersede our identity as Americans,” McMaster said, adding that “centripetal forces in our society” have now “created by this interaction of identity politics with racism and bigotry.”
After arguing that the country needs “leaders who can bring us back together and generate confidence in our identity as Americans and as human beings,” without directly mentioning Trump, McMaster was then asked whether white supremacist groups pose a national security threat to the country and if the President should be more direct in condemning them.
McMaster agreed, before echoing Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade’s sports analogy that Trump missed an easy opportunity in the debate.
“To use a sports analogy, condemning white supremacists should be a layup for any leader,” McMaster said. “What we’re undervaluing these days is the importance of bringing Americans back together to reinforce our common identity.”
McMaster went on to say he’s unsure why Trump failed to seize his chance to denounce white supremacists during the debate, and called it a “missed opportunity.”
“It’s certainly a missed opportunity, but it also gives space to these groups that foment hatred and intolerance,” McMaster said. “And whenever you have a group at one end of the spectrum who define themselves in a particular way, you tend to get an equal and opposite reaction on the other end of the spectrum.”
Trump’s former national security adviser also slammed the President’s repeated interruptions throughout the debate as “a poor example of democracy internationally, but also within our own country.”