There's something distinctive in the way Trump talks about the alt-right

President-elect Donald Trump has a large, vocal group of fans from whom he can’t seem to escape.

Trump has, on multiple occasions, attempted to distance himself from the adulation of various controversial groups — white-supremacist, white-nationalist, alt-right, and Neo-Nazi organisations among them — that have extolled his electoral success as a boon to their movements.

But Trump, by many accounts, has not disavowed white-nationalist groups as strongly as he has other entities and individuals — like the cast of the Broadway musical, “Hamilton,” or “Saturday Night Live,” for example.

Trump’s most recent denouncement came in a New York Times interview Tuesday, in which he said of white-supremacist groups: “I condemn them. I disavow and I condemn.” He added: “I don’t want to energize the group, and I disavow the group.”

He had the same words for former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke in February, but famously hesitated to slap away Duke’s endorsement.

The incoming president and his advisers seem flabbergasted by concerns that his simple condemnations — which tend to come after extensive goading — are not enough.

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Trump adviser Sean Spicer was incredulous at the suggestion that Trump does not take any initiative in disavowing the groups.

“When is it going to be enough?” Spicer asked CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, who repeatedly grilled him about Trump’s stance on the groups, asking if the president-elect should perhaps deliver a speech further denouncing the groups.

Wolf Blitzer Sean Spicer CNNScreenshot via MediaiteCNN anchor Wolf Blitzer (L) and GOP communications director Sean Spicer (R)

“He has condemned everyone that’s come out, every group that supported him. At some point, you’ve got to take his position and move on,” Spicer said. “I don’t know how many more times Donald Trump can make his position clear.”

Blitzer asked Spicer why white-supremacist groups hang on to Trump anyway.

“I don’t know,” Spicer shot back. “That’s really not my focus, figuring out why certain groups support him. … He won the election with tens of millions of people. His focus is on making the country better. … To ask him over and over again to denounce the same people over and over again is getting a bit preposterous.”

“You’ve asked me the same question eight times. I’ve told you what his position is,” Spicer said.

Trump campaigned and won the election in part by appealing to fears over immigration, leaning heavily on overtones that seemed to suggest middle America was under attack. White-supremacist groups like the National Policy Institute, which held a headline-grabbing conference last weekend, have seemed to take that message as a wink from Trump.

Trump is now headed to the White House.

Still, he has deigned to forcefully rebuke his white-supremacist fans without being prompted. Their support, as declared by the former KKK leader Duke himself right after the election, is part of the reason why he won.

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