He drew criticism earlier when he failed to condemn white supremacists.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday called on right-wing militias to “stand down” and let police “do their work” in an apparent attempt at damage control after failing to condemn such groups on the debate stage a day earlier.

Mr. Trump drew outrage after he dodged an opportunity to condemn white supremacists, and instead dropped the name of a far-right militia group — the Proud Boys — during his first presidential debate against Joe Biden on Tuesday night.

“I don’t know who Proud Boys are but whoever they are they have to stand down,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House. “Stand down, let law enforcement do their work,” he said. “Whoever they are, stand down.”

Mr. Biden had branded Mr. Trump a “national embarrassment” for failing to explicitly denounce white supremacist groups, as the president moved to quell the storm sparked by his remarks on the debate stage.

The bitter adversaries returned to the campaign trail one day after their off-the-rails showdown in Cleveland made headlines less for the substance than for its unrestrained chaos.


The toxic shout fest — with Mr. Trump constantly interrupting and Mr. Biden launching personal attacks — even prompted the overseeing Commission on Presidential Debates to announce it would be imposing new measures to help moderators “maintain order” at the upcoming two debates.

After his assertive performance, Mr. Biden launched a whistlestop train tour Wednesday through battleground states Ohio and Pennsylvania where he renewed his criticism of Trump.

“The president of the United States conducted himself the way he did — I think it was a national embarrassment,” Mr. Biden said in Alliance, Ohio.

He fiercely attacked Mr. Trump’s failure to make a clear and forceful denunciation of white supremacist groups or the far-right Proud Boys, instead giving a shout-out to the male-only militia group by saying they should “stand back and stand by,” and that the real problem is “far-left” extremists.

“My message to the Proud Boys and every other white supremacist group is: cease and desist,” Mr. Biden said. “That’s not who we are. This is not who we are as Americans.”

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