Mike Pence Compares Donald Trump to Teddy Roosevelt, Who Said White People Were 'the Forward Race'

Donald Trump press conference
President Donald Trump talks about the violence at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in the lobby of Manhattan's Trump Tower on August 15. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Vice President Mike Pence compared President Donald Trump to former President Teddy Roosevelt, who believed white people were "the forward race." Speaking on Tuesday, just days after violence at a white supremacist rally left one person dead, Pence made the unfortunate comparison between the U.S.'s 26th president and Trump.

"In President Donald Trump, the United States once again has a president whose vision, energy and can-do spirit is reminiscent of President Teddy Roosevelt," Pence said in comments reported by Guardian correspondent Ben Jacobs.

Mike Pence compared Trump to Theodore Roosevelt today pic.twitter.com/kl0pWaxpnB

— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) August 17, 2017

"Then, as now, we have a builder of boundless optimism, who seeks to usher in a new era of shared possibility," Pence said, "Then, as now, we have a leader who sees things not just for what they are but for what they could be."

The vice president's decision to compare the president to Roosevelt, whose views on Native American and African people are well documented, comes at a time when Trump himself is facing criticism over his failure to denounce white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Roosevelt was known for calling white Americans "the forward race" and minorities "the backward race." He said of Native Americans, "I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth."

Trump gave a press conference about the violence in Charlottesville in which he claimed not all people marching in the white supremacist rally were white supremacists, drawing criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike.

"I think there is blame on both sides," Trump told reporters. "You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I'll say it right now.

"I've condemned neo-Nazis. I've condemned many different groups. Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch."