Mike Pence refuses to call David Duke 'deplorable'

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Donald Trump's running mate may not want former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke's backing — but he has refused to call him "deplorable".

On Tuesday, following a meeting with House Republicans, Mike Pence reiterated that neither he nor Trump want Duke's support.

"But I'm also not going to validate the language Hillary Clinton used to describe the American people," Pence said on Tuesday. "She was talking about people across this country who are coming out in record numbers to stand by Donald Trump in record numbers."

Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, initially claimed at a fundraiser that half of Trump's supporters could fit into a "basket of deplorables."

See Mike Pence and Donald Trump on the campaign trail:

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Donald Trump and Mike Pence on the campaign trail since the RNC
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Donald Trump and Mike Pence on the campaign trail since the RNC
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump arrives for a rally at Duplin County Events Center in Kenansville, North Carolina on September 20, 2016. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
ESTERO, FL - SEPTEMBER 19: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Germain Arena on September 19, 2016 in Estero, Florida. Trump is locked in a tight race against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in Florida as the November 8th election nears. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the JetCenters of Colorado in Colorado Springs, Colorado on September 17, 2016. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0534 -- Pictured: (l-r) Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on September 15, 2016 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Bethel United Methedoist Church on September 14, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 13: U.S. Republican vice presidental nominee Gov. Mike Pence addresses a news conference with House GOP leaders following a conference at Republican headquaters on Capitol Hill September 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. When asked about former vice presidential candidate Speaker Paul Ryan's reluctance to endorse presidential candidate Donald Trump, Pence said that the House Republicans and the campaign agree on a plan for America. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, greets attendees after speaking at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. Any path Trump might take to the presidency inevitably leads through the Rust Belt and industrial Midwest the places the Republican nominee describes as 'rusting and rotting' war zones of manufacturing decline. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, pauses while speaking during a campaign rally at the Erie Insurance Arena in Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Two days after Trump said that President Barack Obama had founded Islamic State, and a day after he insisted that he meant what he said, the Republican presidential nominee reversed himself on Friday and claimed the statement was nothing more than sarcasm. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, speaks during a campaign rally at the Erie Insurance Arena in Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. Two days after Trump said that President Barack Obama had founded Islamic State, and a day after he insisted that he meant what he said, the Republican presidential nominee reversed himself on Friday and claimed the statement was nothing more than sarcasm. Photographer: Ty Wright/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Related: Trump Accuses Clinton of 'Bullying' With Charges of Racism

After coming under criticism, she issued a statement over the weekend that she regretted using the word "half." What is "deplorable," she said was that Trump hired Breitbart News' Steve Bannon, "a major advocate for the so-called 'alt-right' movement to run his campaign and that David Duke and other white supremacists see him as a champion of their values."

Related: 5 Things to Know About the 'Alt-Right'

On Monday evening, Pence refused to use the term during an interview with CNN host Wolf Blizer.

"There are some supporters of Donald Trump and Mike Pence who ― David Duke, for example, some other white nationalists ― who would fit into that category of deplorables. Right?" Blitzer asked.

"Donald Trump has denounced David Duke repeatedly. We don't want his support and we don't want the support of people who think like him," Pence said.

When Blitzer pushed Pence on if he'd call Duke, who is running for Senate in Louisiana, a "deplorable," Pence answered, "No I'm not in the name calling business..." He added, "What Hillary Clinton did Friday night was shocking. I mean, the millions of people who support Donald Trump around this country are not a basket of anything."

David Duke claims there is a 'war' against white people:

After the interview, Duke lauded Pence's decision to not denounce him.

"It's good to see an individual like Pence and others start to reject this absolute controlled media," he told BuzzFeed, later adding "The truth is the Republican Party is big tent. I served in the Republican caucus. I was in the Republican caucus in the legislature. I had a perfect Republican voting record. It's ridiculous that they attack me because of my involvement in that nonviolent Klan four decades ago."

Clinton meanwhile, pounced on Pence's remarks, tweeting, "If you won't say the KKK is deplorable, you have no business running the country."

Related: Also learn more about the KKK:

48 PHOTOS
Ku Klux Klan (KKK) through the years
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Ku Klux Klan (KKK) through the years
Ku Klux Klansmen ring a 15-foot cross before setting it afire at a rally near Windham Center, Pennsylvania, Saturday, Dec. 2, 1974. Only about a dozen robed Klansmen were among some 65 persons who turned out for the rally in freezing cold. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this Sept. 21, 1923 file photo, members of the Ku Klux Klan ride horses during a parade through the streets of Tulsa, Okla. Former Sheriff Bill McCullough, who tried to stop the parade, is at foreground left. John Hartvigsen, a flag scholar, says flags' power _ to unite or divide _ is only as great as the significance people assign to them. (AP Photo)
Ku Klux Klan members parade past the U.S. Treasury building in Washington, D.C. in 1925. (AP Photo)
Hundreds of female members of the Ku Klux Klan march in the Memorial Day parade in Atlanta, Ga., on April 26, 1936. The parade was held in memorial of the Confederate dead. (AP Photo)
A hangman's noose dangling from an automobile, driven by a hooded Ku Klux Klan member, is among the grim warnings for blacks to stay away from the voting places in the municipal primary election at Miami, Florida, May 3, 1939. In spite of the threats, 616 blacks voted. (AP Photo)
Members of the Ku Klux Klan, wearing traditional white hoods and robes, stand back and watch with their arms crossed after burning a 15-foot cross at Tampa, Fla., Jan. 30, 1939. (AP Photo)
Two little mascots, equipped with their own robes and hoods, flank Dr. Samuel Green, Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon, in Atlanta, Georgia, July 23, 1948, during a massive initiation ceremony of seven hundred members of the Ku Klux Klan. (AP Photo)
Ku Klux Klansmen burned a cross before the Emanuel County Courthouse, Swainsboro, Georgia, USA, Feb. 4th, 1948. They paraded in full regalia for the first time since the nineteen-twenties, when the klan was in its heyday. (AP Photo)
Men and women members of the Ku Klux Klan, in traditional white hoods and robes, march into the Inman Yards Baptist Church to attend regular Sunday evening services in Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 16, 1949. (AP Photo)
Riding mules and carrying a fiery cross, some 50 or 60 robed and hooded Klansmen parade at a rally near Whiteville, N.C., August 19, 1951. Thomas L. Hamilton of Leesville, S.C., Grand Dragon of the Carolinas Klan, said "The Klan will again progress in North Carolina." The rally attracted an estimated 5,000 spectators. (AP Photo)
A black woman watches as robed Ku Klux Klansmen walk in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, prior to a cross burning rally that night, November 24, 1956. Circulars advertising Klan meeting said, "We believe in white supremacy, we need you -- you need us." Blacks have boycotted city buses for nearly a year in protest against segregation. (AP Photo)
Ku Klux Klansmen carry torches and march around a large burning cross at a KKK rally in Spartanburg, S.C., Saturday, Aug. 17, 1963. A crowd of some 2,000 persons heard an address by Robert Shelton, imperial wizard of United Klans of American, Inc. at the rally. (AP Photo)
A North Carolina Klan rally. The Ku Klux Klan, silent and almost unnoticed in North Carolina in recent years, has started a drive for money and members. This picture was made at a cross burning at Salisbury, N.C., Aug. 8, 1964. It was one of the first rallies scheduled in the KKK's revival efforts in North Carolina. A rally is planned Saturday at Farmville, a community 55 miles east of Raleigh. (AP-Photo)
Klan Rally - Knights of the Ku Klux Klan march in a circle around a 50 ft. burning cross Sunday, June 06, 1965, as approximately 2,500 watch the closing ceremony of the rally near Trenton, N.C. (AP-Photo)
A member of the Ladies' Auxiliary of the United Klans of America, Inc., holds her young daughter, also robed in a Klan suit, at a Ku Klux Klan rally in Atlanta, Ga., on June 5, 1965. Some 600 persons attended the rally. The woman did not want to be indentified. (AP Photo)
Burning of the Cross - Ku Klux Klansmen, torches in hand, parade around a gigant flaming cross during a recent rally in North Carolina cow pasture. Each Klan rally ends with a cross burning ceremony. Long after the rally the burning cross can be seen for miles. A recording of "The Old Rugged Cross" blares from loud speakers while the cross burns. (AP-Photo) 25.7.1965
Knights of the Ku Klux Klan march in cemetery funeral rites in Chesapeake, Va., Oct. 12, 1966 for late Klansman Lillion Carlton Jernigan, 55, who died on Monday. Jernigan, whose funeral service was conducted by a Southern Baptist minister in a funeral home, was buried with Masonic rites as well as the Klan rites. (AP Photo)
The sign and the hooded figure draw attention to a Ku Klux Klan encampment on a rented meadow beside U.S. 71 near Campti, La., August 16, 1974. It was the scene of a recruitment rally for the United Klans of America, Inc., richest and most visible of the 14 separate and jealous Klan groups known to the FBI. These days, the vaunted Klan secrecy seems to hide weakness, not strength. (AP Photo)
Two women in Ku Klux Klan robes stand before a cross which was burned at a KKK rally at the head of Witcher’s Creek Hollow in Charleston, West Virginia, Saturday, Feb. 14, 1975. The women refused to give their names. The Klan has pledged to unite anti-textbook forces in Kanawha County. (AP Photo)
Ku Klux Klan members light their torches from that of their local Klan Leader Charles Carroll, right, during a membership rally in Pensacola, Florida, Saturday, May 25, 1975. (AP Photo/John Lent)
J.B. Stoner waves a Confederate flag after talking with news people outside the Cobb County Courthouse, Sept. 28, 1977, Marietta, Ga. Stoner was released on bend after surrendering to authorities after being indicted on charges of bombing a church in Birmingham, Ala. in 1958. (AP Photo/Joe Holloway Jr.)
Members of Florida’s Ku Klux Klan, properly known as the United Klans of America and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan marched in full force without incident in Davie, Florida, Saturday, July 8, 1978. The Klan has been trying to obtain a permit for this march for several years. It was finally granted a rally and cross-burning are scheduled. (AP Photo/Willens)
About 25 people gathered outside of KIRO radio’s downtown Seattle offices on Oct. 30, 1980, to protest the station’s interview with David Duke, former Grand Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. (AP Photo)
Meriden police in riot garb formed a cordon at the base of the steps of City Hall in Meriden on March 23, 1981 to protect members of the Ku Klux Klan who held a rally there. Minutes later angry demonstrators tried to force their way past police, forcing the members of the Klan to seek shelter in City Hall. (AP Photo/Bob Child)
Members of the Invisible Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan arrive at City Hall in Meriden on March 21, 1981 under escort by Meriden police clad in full riot gear. The Klan were in Meriden to rally in support of local police. (AP Photo/Bob Child)
An unidentified couple wearing robes of the Ku Klux Klan kiss after wedding ceremony at the Paulding County Courthouse in Dallas, Georgia on Dec. 11, 1982 after a Klan march through the town. The couple refused to give their names. The march was held after the Klan was denied use of the high school gymnasium for a rally. (AP Photo/Ben Baxter)
Demonstrators scuffled with Meriden police at the base of the steps of City Hall in Meriden, Connecticut on March 23, 1981 as they sought to confront members of the Ku Klux Klan who were holding a rally there. (AP Photo/Bob Child)
Helmeted Boston police officers work to restrain an unidentified man at Boston’s City Hall Plaza on Oct. 16, 1982 as an onlooker holds up his hands after demonstrators clashed with police during a Ku Klux Klan rally. (AP Photo/Bill Polo)
Police chase back anti Ku Klux Klan demonstrators in the parking lot of West Farms Mall shopping center in Farmington, Conn.,, Sunday, May 23, 1983. The demonstrators were protesting a proposed stop by Klan members of distribute pamphlets. Three were arrested in connection with the scuffle. (AP Photo/Child)
An anti Ku Klux Klan protester raises her fist as she presses against the police line separating Klan members and demonstrators from each other during a march and rally in College Park, Georgia, Sunday, May 28, 1983. (AP Photo/Ric Feld)
Anti-Klan demonstrators, right, heckle members of the Ku Klux Klan as a group of about fifty Klansmen arrived at the Texas Capitol following a short parade near the capitol in Austin on Saturday, Feb. 19, 1983. Four hours, several anti-Klan groups staged a parade of their own. (AP Photo/Ted Powers)
Supporters of the Ku Klux Klan help members raise the cross that was to be burned at the rally held on a farm near Masontown, Pennsylvania Saturday, July 19, 1986. (AP Photo/Keith B. Srakocic)
Wearing traditional robes of the Invisible Empire, Ku Klux Klan members form a circle around a burning cross in Rumford, Maine Saturday, Sept. 27, 1987. Lead by the group’s national leaderr Imperial Wizard James W. Farrands, the Klan gathered on a rural farm in western Maine for a rally. (AP Photo/Scott Perry)
Unidentified man is arrested by police in Greensboro, North Carolina Sunday, June 7, 1987 after he broke through police lines during a Ku Klux Klan march. In the foreground is the man’s flag and bible. (AP Photo/Bob Jordan)
Six Ku Klux Klan marchers are surrounded by 1,000 National Guardsmen and 1,000 officers as they parade on Dr. Martin Luther King in Atlanta Saturday, Jan. 21, 1989. Counter-demonstrators clashed with police with rocks, sticks and bottles later in the march, called to protest the observance of the holiday for the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (AP Photo/Charles Kelly)
Residents gathered to protest a Ku Klux Klan rally in Brownwood, Texas Friday, June 26, 1992 in order to draw attention away from the Klan gathering across town. Brownwood officials initially opposed the Klan rally, but the U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that states and cities may not outlaw cross burning and “hate crimes.” (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Twenty-six members of the Ku Klux Klan rally on the steps of the Jefferson County Courthouse Saturday, April 13, 1996, in Louisville, Ky. The Klan members and their supporters shouted their message of "white pride" from the courthouse steps while several hundred counter demonstrators shouted messages of unity from across the street. Authoritites reported no arrests and no injuries were reported during the demonstration. (AP Photo/Brian Bohannon)
A member of the Ku Klux Klan salutes to the crowd at a rally in Greensburg, Pa. Saturday, August 16, 1997. Police, who kept several hundred people from interfering with the rally, were unable to keep some protesters from throwing eggs, bottles and debris at the klan members. (AP Photo/Gary Tramontina)
Mid-Michigan skinheads shout"Sieg Heil," a Nazi salute meaning hail to victory, during a Knights of the Klu Klux Klan rally held in Caro, Mich. Saturday Sept. 27, 1997. No major violence occurred during the one and a half-hour rally. A group of about 350 protestors shouted abuse at the Klan members and their skinhead supporters. (AP Photo/The Bay City Times, Dan Staudacher)
State police guard the perimeter of the courthouse in Mercer, Pa., while the Ku Klux Klan holds a rally on the steps Saturday, Aug. 8, 1998. Some 200 people gathered to listen to members of the Klan during a rally held under heavy police presence. (AP Photo/Gary tramontina)
Members of the Church of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan march around the Madison County Courthouse in Canton, Miss., Saturday, May 29, 1999. About 40 members of the group conducted their "informational program" at the courthouse following their brief march. All the activities ended with no incident. (AP Photo/Rogelio Solis)
A member of the Ku Klux Klan is hugged by a supporter of the death penalty while demonstrating outside the Huntsville Unit where the death chamber is located Thursday, June 22, 2000 in Huntsville, Texas. Convicted killer Gary Graham is scheduled to be executed later Thursday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Gordon Young, a local Imperial Wizard of the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, marches with other KKK members, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2004, in Sharpsburg, Md. The nine participants in the march were outnumbered by more than two dozen police in riot gear who kept the Klansmen away from scores of people gathered in a downtown intersection. The police escorted the marchers to a city park, but kept the public away. (AP Photo/Timothy Jacobsen)
Members of the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan as they march along a street, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2004, in Sharpsburg, Md. The participants in the march were outnumbered by more than two dozen police in riot gear who kept the Klansmen away from scores of people gathered in a downtown intersection. The police escorted the marchers to a city park, but kept the public away. (AP Photo/Timothy Jacobsen)
Members of the World Order of the Ku Klux Klan arrive at the Gettysburg National Military Park for a protest rally Saturday, Sept. 2, 2006 in Gettysburg, Pa. The KKK fielded 25 members for the event and their were no incidents. (AP Photo/Bradley C Bower)
An unidentified member of the Ku Klux Klan peers from beneath a hooded mask at a Ku Klux Klan rally Saturday, June 10, 2006 at the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md. About 30 people, some in white robes and others in the military-style clothing and swastika armbands of the National Socialist Movement of America, stood next to a farmhouse on the battlefield. (AP Photo/Matt Houston)
Ken Krauss of the National Socialist Movement, center, salutes with members of the Ku Klux Klan, Saturday, June 10, 2006, at the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md. About 30 people, some in white robes and others in the military-style clothing and swastika armbands of the National Socialist Movement of America, stood next to a farmhouse on the battlefield. (AP Photo/Matt Houston)
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