White House braces for fallout from Trump remarks on 'alt-left' and Virginia violence

NEW YORK, Aug 15 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump no doubt pleased part of his political base on Tuesday by passionately arguing that both right- and left-wing extremists were responsible for violence at a white supremacist rally in Virginia on Saturday.

But his remarks, one day after he, under pressure, explicitly condemned neo Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, left White House officials bracing for fallout from disappointed Republicans whose support he needs to govern in the coming months and years.

"Your base isn’t going to win you re-election ... nor is it going to keep you a majority in Congress,” said one administration official. It was political reality that the controversy over Trump's response would last for some time, he said.

RELATED: Reactions to Trump's Aug. 15 remarks

Reactions to President Trump's remarks on Aug. 15
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Reactions to President Trump's remarks on Aug. 15
We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.
Race-based supremacy movements have no place in our melting pot culture. #Charlottesville
No, not the same. One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes.
I haven't seen anything that crazy since Tyson bit Holyfield @realDonaldTrump
As a Jew, as an American, as a human, words cannot express my disgust and disappointment. This is not my President.
Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist… https://t.co/7LxWB0FaWi
Let's get real. https://t.co/vM8gJ8lWrc
Good time to re-up https://t.co/RZ24UhKtDw
Mr. President,you can't allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame.They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain 5/6
Our full statement on @POTUS' racist and Antisemitic fright-show news conference just now: https://t.co/EDvKwS2TeJ
President @realDonaldTrump once again denounced hate today. The GOP stands behind his message of love and inclusiveness!
Trump:"George Washington was a slave owner…so will George Washington now lose his status…how about Thomas Jefferson" #Charlottesville
Blaming "both sides" for #Charlottesville?! No. Back to relativism when dealing with KKK, Nazi sympathizers, white supremacists? Just no.
Mr. President, there is only one side: AGAINST white supremacists, neo-Nazis, anti-Semites & the KKK. They have no place in America or GOP.
The president just erased yesterday's speech and is now back to Saturday's position on Charlottesville. Unbelievable.
"Very fine people" do not participate in rallies with groups chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans and displaying vile symbols of hate.
So, there you have it. Trump defends the Confederacy.
This press conference is a train wreck. Trump is defending the alt-right & Confederate statues. Doubles down & blames "both sides" #Shame
Trump: "What about the alt-left? The alt-left" was responsible for some of the violence in Charlottesville. "Nobody wants to say that."
Trump: Raising wages will help improve race relations. #trump
Takeaways from Trump's comments now: 1. There is blame on both sides 2. He hasn't called the victim's family 3. He owns a very large winery
Trump:"[People protesting white supremacists] came without a permit and attacked that group [white supremacists]. Bad people on both sides."
"We should never hesitate to call out hate. Whenever and wherever we see it." -OGH https://t.co/Zy2YaJwFlV… https://t.co/yncx1VPbER
George Washington is to Robert E. Lee as Barack Obama is to Donald J. Trump
Trump's crime today was not lying enough.
Trump dropped that "George Washington had slaves" reveal like he really had some good tea congrats on passing third grade

The remarks at Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday that sparked that reality at times bordered on the surreal.

Trump pulled out the statement he read on Saturday in an apparent effort to show, despite the subsequent criticism, that his initial instincts that "many sides" had been at fault were correct.

"What about the alt-left that came charging at the ... alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?" he demanded, using terms that refer to right- and left-wing extremists.

He lashed out at the news media, a frequent foil, for its reporting about his reaction to the violence.

And he praised Susan Bro, the mother of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who died after a car driven by a man reported to have harbored Nazi sympathies plowed into the rally opponents.

SEE ALSO: Trump campaign slams CNN for ad 'censorship'

The praise, however, was for her warm remarks about Trump.

"Under the kind of stress that she’s under and the heartache that she’s under, I thought putting out that statement, to me, was really something," the president said.

Trump's political supporters embrace his style, and the Tuesday back-and-forth with reporters was an example of a characteristic that defines him, said a former adviser: a dislike for being criticized or pressured.

"When you push the president to do something, he’s not going to do it. He’s going to make a point not to do it,” said Sam Nunberg, a former campaign aide.

White House officials said time would tell how long the issue would remain in the headlines, and whether it would hurt Trump badly with legislators and others within his political base.

SEE ALSO: Poll: More blame North Korea's Kim Jong Un over Trump for escalating tensions

For now, the administration official said, the best strategy to deal with the fallout was to stay mum.

"Let's just put a pin in it, and you know, not tweet, not comment any further," he said. "Right now explaining is losing.” (Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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