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'Which lies do you want to talk about?'

Congressman Don Bacon tells Conflict Zone that President Donald Trump's supporters "want someone who fights back". But after failing to repeal Obamacare and with his agenda in doubt, will they continue to back him?

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Don Bacon on Conflict Zone

"I think [Trump is] doing a good job as president," Don Bacon told DW's Tim Sebastian.

In an exclusive interview on Conflict Zone, the Republican Congressman from Nebraska, who had been critical of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, said: "In the end when you're having to pick a president, it's between two people. And it was him and Hillary Clinton. And I thought he was a better choice."

Prior to last year's vote, Bacon had also said Trump's words on the so-called 'Access Hollywood tape' were "utterly disgraceful and disqualifying," but was unwilling to say that he regretted Trump being elected: "I always said I would vote for him over Hillary Clinton because her conduct was also disqualifying."

Charlottesville violence

The more recent of President Trump's comments to draw criticism include his response to violence in August in Charlottesville, Virginia, where far-right groups clashed with counter-protesters. One woman was killed and dozens of people injured when a car driven by a man with reported extremist sympathies attending the nationalist rally plowed into the crowd.

USA Charlottesville Virginia Konflikte Ku Klux Klan vs. Gegendemonstranten (Reuters/J. Roberts)

White nationalists and counter-protesters clashed in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the city planned to remove a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. President Trump said there were "some very fine people on both sides".

Trump condemned violence on both sides, saying each included some "very fine people". Did Bacon believe there was equivalence between the Ku Klux Klan and people protesting them?

"No, there is not an equivalence and I would have been on the side of those protesting but they should not have done it in a violent way. And I think that was the president's comment."

After Charlottesville and Trump's comments, a number of corporate leaders resigned from the president's business council. They included pharmaceutical boss Kenneth Frazier, who said he felt "a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism." Less than an hour later, Trump took to twitter to attack the Merck CEO.

"If I was [Donald Trump] I would work on raising the bar of civility," said Bacon on the president's broadsides. 

USA Präsident Donald Trump in Phoenix (Reuters/R. Roberts)

Trump’s supporters “want someone who fights back,” Congressman Don Bacon told Conflict Zone.

But he added: "A lot of his supporters want someone who fights back too and you're seeing that tug of war right now. My way is to - I'm a conservative - I believe in making my case in a civil way … but I know a lot of supporters want someone who fights back. And that's one of the reasons he got elected."

Which lies?

As well as the complaints of personal attacks by Donald Trump are his problems with the facts. How did the congressman from Nebraska justify his support for a president accused of repeatedly lying?

"Which lies do you want to talk about?" said Bacon.

Did he then support the president telling lies?

"I support the general policy direction of our country. I support the general conservative message and the themes where he has taken us. I want to lower taxes. I want to fix our tax code. I want to strengthen our military," Bacon told Tim Sebastian.

Gun control

But President Trump's direction for the country on gun control has been vague in the aftermath of the worst mass killing in modern US history. On Sunday October 1st, a gunman killed 59 people and injured hundreds more at a music festival in Las Vegas.

In the days following the massacre, Trump told reporters, "We'll be talking about gun laws as time goes on," seemingly opening the door to a debate over gun control, while the White House reaffirmed his support of the Second Amendment – "that hasn't changed" – which enshrines gun ownership in the United States' constitution.

DW Conflict Zone - Zitat Don Bacon

The politically powerful National Rifle Association also indicated it may be open to new regulation on devices used by the gunman in Las Vegas to modify semi-automatic weapons, though it has ruled out supporting new legislation.

Bacon said: "We do have a constitution and I'm going to be a defender of the Second Amendment. I do think there are some areas to reflect like, for example, the ability to modify a gun to be an automatic weapon. I think that that's a discussion point that we need to have."

"But in the end ... I think we want to enforce the laws we have."

A publication in 2011 by the Small Arms Survey showed the United States has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world by far, with 89 guns per 100 people.

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