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Bannon on Trump's white supremacy debate answer: 'A lot of us wish it was a little harder'

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Steve Bannon, a former senior adviser to President Trump, discusses the president’s performance at Tuesday’s debate. Reacting to harsh criticism of Trump’s failure to directly condemn white supremacy, Bannon tells Yahoo News that “ethnonationalism, white supremacists should definitely be denounced. I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

Video Transcript

ALEXANDER NAZARYAN: Let me ask you this. The Proud Boys moment, the moment when President Trump did not denounce white supremacy, what do you make of that?

STEVE BANNON: [INAUDIBLE] he's done it. He's denounced it so many times before. Obviously, I think a lot of us wish it was a little harder. The-- I'm not actually sure on the Proud Boys because I don't really know the details of these ethnonationalist groups. I'm not so sure how white supremacist they are versus some sort of-- you know, one these masculinity groups or all that.

But no, he should-- look, it's-- it's absolutely categorical. Ethnonationalism, white supremacists should definitely be denounced. I don't think there's any question about that. One thing these people don't talk about is that, you know, in this Platinum Program that he put out a couple weeks ago addressing access to capital for the African-American community, he put the KKK up as-- as something that should be designated a domestic terror organization.

At the same time, Antifa should be a domestic or international terror organization. I'm all for that. I've been-- I've been saying for a long time, even with, you know, our rights to protest, that when these people bring clubs and shields and all this stuff to protests, you know, I've been very big that Antifa ought to be shut down.

But the same with the ethnonationalists and the white supremacists. You-- you show up armed to the teeth and really there to fight, it's-- you know, to me, that's a huge problem. That stuff's got to be shut down. It should be condemned. I think he came out the next day and tried to-- to sharpen his remarks, but that was-- I think Brian Kilmeade said it best. That was a lay-up that he just-- he just missed.

ALEXANDER NAZARYAN: So I'm hearing an evolution of where you were with some of those ethnonationalist groups. I think you had seen them as potentially useful to the movement when we--

STEVE BANNON: That's-- that's-- that's so nonsense. You just-- you'll-- you'll never find anything like that. I thought ethnonationalists-- I called those guys out from the very beginning as being a-- a group of-- a group of clowns, complete-- completely a group of clowns. This-- this whole thing about the alt-right that time I talked-- I think it was "Nation" magazine or "Mother Jones"-- is the fact that early on, you know, Breitbart-- because Breitbart is a platform for the gay community.

For every different aspect of conservatism, Breitbart tried to be a platform as we built a-- the mosaic of the Breitbart platform. Alt-right was originally just a reaction to kind of the-- the country club Republicans. When that even got to be the first part of ethnonationalists, we-- we shut it down. I totally just-- I come from the American South. I was raised in a predominately black neighborhood in the north side of Richmond, Virginia.

My parents did not run and leave for the suburbs back in the '60s. My dad just turned 99 and lives in the same house we bought back, I think, in 1957, a predominately black neighborhood today. I was raised in a predominately black section of Richmond. No, I think ethnonationalism-- I've condemned from the beginning. First off, I think it's ridiculous and stupid, any type of ethnonationalism.

And people can see, you know, I've dedicated my life, the last four or five years, whether it's being the chairman of the-- of the-- the Republican Hindu Association or really my work in China and free-- really the freedom of the Lao by Xi is-- is, you know, one of my driving forces in my life. So no, I think ethnonationalism is ridiculous, not only stupid politically, but regardless, it's ridiculous as even a construct.

ALEXANDER NAZARYAN: So how would you have answered the question when Chris Wallace asked it? What should-- how-- what should Trump have said exactly?

STEVE BANNON: I think a-- I think a more-- I think a better answer is what he's done in the past. Just say, hey, look, there's no room in-- to me, there's no room in politics for-- for these ethnonationalists and white supremacists. I think it's-- I think it's a ridiculous concept, and I think they-- I think they are dangerous. But at the same time, Biden didn't-- didn't-- you know, didn't condemn Antifa. I think Antifa is just as dangerous. They're not ethnonationalists, but they are radical anarchists.

So you have danger on both sides. One is the ethnonationalism is-- is very dangerous. I think parts of Farrakhan's movement have been dangerous, right, black nationalism. Although, I fully support economic nationalism for the African-American community. That's why I was one of the big proponents of this Platinum Program. I've said for years that working-class African-Americans are going to be a big part of the Trump program over time because of-- because of economic nationalism.

And I think that the Platinum Program talks it, about getting access to capital to the black community, which I think is very important. But no, I think anything ethnonationalists, not just white supremacists, other ethnonationalists, right? There's even aspects of-- in China where they've got the Han, you know, ethnonationalists that are dangerous. I think ethnonationalism is dangerous across the board. I think white supremacism is definitely ridiculous and-- and dangerous. And I think President Trump could have done a better job in doing it.

I think Brian Kilmeade said it best when-- I think it was on the show the next day, he said, hey, it was a lay-up, and you just-- you know, you shot a brick. So I-- I believe-- he's been pretty good, I think, about condemning the past. I think the media way overplays that because they're obviously biased against Trump. But I-- I don't see any room in the Trump movement for ethnonationalism. Or white supremacism.