Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty; Alex Wong/Getty Donald Trump (left), Mike Pence
Mike Pence joined the chorus of Republican voices saying it was "wrong" of Donald Trump to host white supremacist Nick Fuentes and rapper Kanye West for dinner at his private Mar-a-Lago club last week.
"President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an antisemite and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table," the former vice president, 63, said in a Monday appearance on NewsNation, Axios reports. "I think he should apologize for it and he should denounce those individuals and their hateful rhetoric without qualification."
Pence added that he didn't believe Trump himself is a "racist or a bigot."
"I don't believe Donald Trump is an antisemite. I don't believe he's a racist or a bigot," Pence said. "People often forget that the president's daughter converted to Judaism, his son-in-law is a devout Jew, his grandchildren are Jewish ... I think the president demonstrated profoundly poor judgment in giving those individuals a seat at the table."
Other Republicans have also criticized Trump for the dinner, though none have indicated whether it would make them think differently about voting for the former president in 2024.
"It was wrong and inappropriate to have that meeting," retiring Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said on Monday. "White supremacy has no place in our nation's culture. It's antithetical to everything we stand for as Americans."
Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst called the dinner "ridiculous," NBC News reports, but added, "That's all I'm going to say," when asked by reporters about Trump's meeting with West and Fuentes.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney — a vocal critic of Trump — went a step further, calling the dinner "disgusting" and adding, "I think it's been clear there's no bottom to the degree to which President Trump will degrade himself and the nation."
Still others have stopped short of criticizing Trump — who has said he didn't know who Fuentes was but has still not disavowed his rhetoric in the days after the meeting — directly.
"I'm gonna take at face value that the president didn't know who the guy was. I didn't know who it was," Republican Sen. Thom Tillis said this week. "Whoever allowed anyone with his background to get that close to the president should not have a job in the Trump team."
According to reports by both Axios and The New York Times, Trump praised Fuentes — a 24-year-old livestreamer who has been labeled a "white supremacist" by the U.S. Justice Department — during their meeting at Mar-a-Lago last week, with sources telling the outlets the former president said, "He gets me."
Trump has said Fuentes showed up "unexpectedly" to the dinner, and that he only intended to have dinner with West — who has also expressed antisemitic views.
"This past week, Kanye West called me to have dinner at Mar-a-Lago. Shortly thereafter, he unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, whom I knew nothing about," Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform Friday. "We had dinner on Tuesday evening with many members present on the back patio. The dinner was quick and uneventful. They then left for the airport."
Trump later revised his statement further, but still didn't repudiate Fuentes, writing on Saturday: "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.'"
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Trump continued: "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!"