SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday skirted questions about President Donald Trump’s comments voicing sympathy for Charlottesville protesters, but said he stands with the president nonetheless.
Pence wouldn’t say during a press conference in Chile whether he agrees with Trump that there were “fine people” among the white supremacists, KKK members and neo-Nazis who took to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, and whether “both sides” were to blame for the deadly violence between white supremacists and counterdemonstrators, as the president claimed.
One woman died when a car plowed into a crowd of people protesting the white nationalist rally.
In a carefully-worded statement, Pence called what happened in Charlottesville “a tragedy” and said, “the president has been clear on this tragedy and so have I.”
“I spoke at length about this heartbreaking situation on Sunday night in Colombia and I stand with the president and I stand by those words,” he added.
Pence on Sunday called out white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK, saying, “These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate, and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms.”
During a defiant press conference in New York on Tuesday, Trump acknowledged there were “some very bad people” among those who gathered to protest Saturday, but added, “You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”
Trump also expressed support for those seeking to maintain a monument to Robert E. Lee. Pence did not answer questions Wednesday about whether he believes such Confederate movements should be removed.
Instead, Pence reflected in personal terms, saying that although he was in Chile, “our hearts are in Charlottesville.” The funeral for Heather Heyer, the young woman killed during the protest, was held there Wednesday. Pence said he has been praying for Heyer and her family, adding, “We will not allow the few to divide the many.”
The vice president is on a weeklong trip to Latin America to build ties with the region and speak out against the growing crisis in Venezuela.