President Trump ‘s failure to criticize the far-right community in his first debate with Joseph R. Biden Jr. was thrilled by the Republican Party at a crucial time in the 2020 campaign on Wednesday when leading politicians shared their unease about Mr. Trump’s behavior in the face of increasing concerns that it would damage the party on election day.
It was the second time in two weeks that a coalition of party leaders split with Mr. Trump because of the actions they found out of the ordinary. Last week, Republicans distanced themselves from Mr. Trump’s refusal to guarantee a peaceful transition of power if he lost the presidency.
This time, the focus was racial extremism and the President’s reaction to Mr. Biden’s invitation to condemn the Proud Boys, a group connected to white nationalism and acts of abuse, during Tuesday night’s discussion. Mr. Trump replied by asking the party to “take a step back and be ready,” a statement that members of the company took as a virtual endorsement.
Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said Wednesday that it was “unacceptable not to reject white supremacists,” without criticizing Mr. Trump by name, while Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said that the president should “make it clear that Pride Boys is a racial group that rejects American ideals.”
The White Supremacy Exchange provided one of the hottest moments in a debate that unfolded like a chaotic spectacle, as Mr. Trump hijacked the debates with interruptions and mockery that left elected officials, foreign observers, business leaders, grassroots voters, the moderator, and one of the two candidates in the stage agog behind the unsuitable antics of a sitting president. The actions led the committee to monitor the presidential debates to suggest that it would make improvements to the structure of the remaining matches this year, including, theoretically, the right to silence a candidate’s microphone.
Mr. Trump’s indiscipline – which caused Mr. Biden to call the president a ‘clown’ and order him to ‘shut up’ – threatened to rip up major schisms in his electoral party and to lift questions regarding the integrity and leadership of the president already retained by much in the electorate.
Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, a longtime Republican and Native American lawmaker, said in an interview that Mr. Trump should speak out about Proud Boys and other radical movements in clear words.