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Mike Pence calls David Duke a "bad man," but refuses to describe him as deplorable

Mike Pence speaks to reporters after meeting with House Republicans on Sept. 13, 2016.

GOP Vice presidential nominee Mike Pence on Tuesday called former KKK grand wizard David Duke a “bad man,” but he refused to describe him as “deplorable.”

Speaking to reporters after huddling with House Republicans behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, the Indiana governor was asked if he would amend his comment from a day earlier in which he declined to call Duke “deplorable.”

First, Pence said he was “shocked and saddened” when he heard Hillary Clinton referred to people across the U.S. as a “basket of deplorables.”

“Frankly, I’ve never heard a major party candidate speak about the American people with such contempt,” he told reporters after the meeting with the Republican conference.

Pence said he didn’t know why Duke keeps coming up in interviews.

“Donald Trump and I have denounced David Duke repeatedly. We have said that we do not want his support,” he said.

Pence explained he’s “not in the name-calling business” and he said he was “not going to validate the language Hillary Clinton used to describe the American people.”

“Hillary Clinton was not talking about that bad man,” he said.

Like Trump, Pence called on Clinton to “fully retract and apologize for those offensive statements,” which he called “a catastrophic insult to the American people.”

After making the remark Friday night at a fundraiser, Clinton later walked back her estimate that “half” of Trump’s supporters were deplorable, saying it was “wrong.”

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.