Former Vice President Mike Pence on Monday said former President Trump was “wrong” to have dinner with white nationalist Nick Fuentes last week, but said he does not believe Trump is an antisemite or racist.
“President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an antisemite and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table, and I think he should apologize,” Pence told NewsNation in an interview.
“With that being said, as I point out in the book as well, I don’t believe Donald Trump is an antisemite. I don’t believe he’s a racist or a bigot,” Pence continued. “I would not have been his vice president if he was.”
“But I think the president demonstrated profoundly poor judgment in giving those individuals a seat at the table, and as I said, I think he should apologize for it,” Pence said. “He should denounce them without qualification.”
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Pence, who is believed to be laying the groundwork to challenge Trump for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination, noted Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism before marrying Jared Kushner, who is also Jewish.
Pence has also defended Trump’s rhetoric in the aftermath of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, saying his words were taken out of context.
Trump late last week hosted the rapper Ye, formerly Kanye West, at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Ye, who has been widely condemned and lost business deals in recent months for his own antisemitic rhetoric, brought Fuentes, an outspoken Holocaust denier and the host of a white nationalist conference.
The former president has issued several statements in the aftermath of the meeting, none of which explicitly disavowed Ye’s or Fuentes’s past rhetoric.
“So I help a seriously troubled man, who just happens to be black, Ye (Kanye West), who has been decimated in his business and virtually everything else, and who has always been good to me, by allowing his request for a meeting at Mar-a-Lago, alone, so that I can give him very much needed ‘advice,’” Trump posted on Truth Social on Saturday. “He shows up with 3 people, two of which I didn’t know, the other a political person who I haven’t seen in years. I told him don’t run for office, a total waste of time, can’t win. Fake News went CRAZY!”