President Trump drew a blank on the Proud Boys less than 24 hours after appearing to support them on national television, the Hill reports. "I don't know who the Proud Boys are. You'll have to give me a definition because I really don't know who they are," he told reporters Wednesday, per Axios. "I can only say they have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work." His remarks came the day after he gave a shoutout to the far-right group during a contentious presidential debate with Joe Biden in Cleveland. "Proud Boys—stand back, stand by," he said Tuesday night, sparking celebratory posts on social media by right-wing groups and stern responses from Senate Republicans who urged him to denounce white supremacy.
One social media account linked to the Proud Boys placed "stand back and stand by" on their logo while others peddled $40 hoodies and $30 T-shirts reading "PROUD BOYS STANDING BY," the Washington Post reports. "This makes me so happy," a Proud Boys supporter posted. Meanwhile, Politico reports that Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) called on Trump to rethink his response to the group, saying that "if he doesn't correct it—I guess he didn't misspeak." High-profile colleagues like Sens. Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham quickly backed Scott on this one. During his presidency, Trump has both condemned white supremacists and said they were no better or worse than protesters who opposed them. (His most infamous remarks followed clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia.)