LAKE MARY — Florida Gov. Rick Scott denounced racism Monday in the wake of the white nationalist rally that turned deadly in Charlottesville, Va., but stopped short of joining other prominent Republicans in criticizing President Donald Trump's response to the violence.
"I'm not going to parse the president's words, but here's what I'll say: It's evil. It's horrible. I don't believe in racism, I don't believe in bigotry," Scott said. "I believe that the KKK, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, they don't belong in our society."
Scott took questions about Charlottesville after a speech at the Verizon facility on Heathrow Park Lane, during which he announced plans to pursue an amendment to the state Constitution that would require a legislative supermajority for any future tax or fee increases.
Tensions erupted Saturday during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville when a car plowed into counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, whose father lives in Brevard County. Three people died amid the day's chaos, and dozens were hurt.
Trump in his remarks Saturday did not specifically denounce far-right hate groups, instead condemning "hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides." The wording was cheered by white nationalists online and drew criticism from politicians of both major parties.
On Monday, Trump named and condemned hate groups as "repugnant" and declared "racism is evil" in an updated, more forceful statement made live at the White House.
Though he did not criticize the president, Scott was emphatic in denouncing white supremacist ideologies.
"It's evil. I don't believe in it," he said. "It's disgusting that this would ever go on in our society."
State House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a potential 2018 candidate for governor, attended Scott's event and echoed his remarks.
"Wherever evil presents itself — I don't care if it's neo-Nazism, I don't care if it's white supremacy, if it's any of the incidents that we saw, they need to be stamped out and they have no business being in a free, open, democratic society," said Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes.
©2017 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)