Donald Trump equated the Nation of Islam with extremist terrorist groups in an interview on Fox News on Monday morning, calling both, "bad people," and repeating his call for increased "law and order" in response to recent police slayings.
"You look at so many different fronts, you know, radical Islam, and by the way, he seems to be a member of that group also," Trump said, referring to the man who killed three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Sunday. Shooter Gavin Eugene Long is allegedly a former member of the black separatist group Nation of Islam.
"Seems to be something going on there. It’s very sad what’s happening," Trump said.
He did not revise his statement after host Steve Doocy interrupted to correct him: "Nation of Islam."
“Bad people," Trump said. "Bad people. No question about it. Really bad."
Sam Clovis, Trump national campaign co-chairman and policy adviser, appeared to walk back the candidate's comments during a CNN interview, saying it wasn't unusual for someone to conflate two things that early in the morning.
"There are times when people, when they're up early in the morning and making comments, or on television, sometimes they conflate things," he said.
But he also said Trump shouldn't be condemned for his comments until all the facts are known.
"Does he have sympathies with radical Islam? Do we know?" Clovis said. "I think, until we have all the evidence, that we shouldn't be so critical of the comments, and we'll just wait and see how it works out.
The Nation of Islam, one of the wealthiest and best-known organizations in black America, espouses a philosophy of black superiority over whites and its anti-semitic, anti-gay rhetoric has earned it a distinction as one of the country's most prominent organized hate groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Its rhetoric is rejected by most mainstream Muslims.