Trump calls on right-wing group to ‘stand down’ after after Republicans distance themselves from President's debate remark

This article is more than 12 months old

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump scrambled on Wednesday to quell an uproar over his failure to explicitly denounce white supremacist groups during his debate debacle with Mr Joe Biden, who branded his election rival a "national embarrassment".

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.

Mr Biden launched a whistle-stop train tour on Wednesday through battleground states Ohio and Pennsylvania, where he hammered away at Mr 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 clearly denounce white supremacist groups or the far-right Proud Boys.

"My message to the Proud Boys and every other white supremacist group is: Cease and desist," Mr Biden said. "This is not who we are as Americans."

Mr Trump, in an apparent attempt to tamp down outrage over his comments, called on the group to "stand down".

"I don't know who Proud Boys are but whoever they are, they have to stand down," Mr Trump told reporters.

"Stand down, let law enforcement do their work."

Mr Trump's back-pedalling came after multiple Republicans distanced themselves from the President's debate remark, with Senator Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the US Senate, saying Mr Trump "needs to correct" his comments.

Several other Republicans reportedly offered similar reaction, including powerful Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. - AFP