ABC contributor Chris Christie defends Donald Trump's remarks about the Proud Boys: “I heard it differently”

Video file

Citation From the September 30, 2020, edition of ABC's Good Morning America

ROBIN ROBERTS (CO-HOST): Jon, I want to ask about the moment from the debate that we also saw in Mary's report when the president of the United States of America is asked if he's willing to condemn white supremacists, Jon.

JON KARL (ABC REPORTER): Robin, that was the low point of the debate. I believe that may have been the low point of the entire campaign. The president was asked to condemn white supremacists generally, and then he was asked to specifically condemn a group called the {Proud] Boys. Now, the [Proud] Boys are a virulently racist group known to provoke violence on the streets. They call themselves white chauvinists. This is an easy thing to do. He not only did not condemn them he didn't even criticize them and, unfortunately, Robin, it's really part of a pattern that we've seen with Donald Trump. We've seen it for years, we've seen for over a decade. He has never apologized for his role as the central figure in the birther movement, a frankly racist movement and when David Duke endorsed his campaign back in 2016 he took days to condemn it and only did it after he was asked a question by a reporter.


Of course what we saw play out after Charlottesville when the world saw white supremacists marching with tiki torches saying "Jews will not [replace] us" and he said there were very fine people on both sides.

ROBERTS: And that's the moment when Joe Biden says he decided he was going to run for president.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (CO-HOST): We have Chris Christie and Rahm Emanuel joining us now. Chris let me begin with you. You were part of the president's debate prep. How does he clean up this Proud Boys moment last night? Will he do it?

CHRIS CHRISTIE (ABC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): Well, listen, I think, again, George, I heard it differently last night when he said, sure, I will, right off the top in response to it but if there's any doubt about that we'll be able to clear it up.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He said stand up and stand by. He said stand by. That was a call to arms.

CHRISTIE: George, I didn't read it that way George, but listen, if you want to read it that way that's your prerogative. You asked me how to to clean it up and that's the question I'm answering. And the way to do that is, the next opportunity the president has to clarify that answer because folks like you and others are confused by it then he should do that. I think, you know, what happened last night as I said during our program last night the president came out much too hot in that regard, too aggressive in the debate and that Joe Biden came out in a way that concerned me as well.


STEPHANOPOULOS: I would just point out, the Proud Boys weren't confused by what the president said. They were cheering overnight.

Transcript note: Jon Karl misnamed the Proud Boys, calling them the “Lost Boys.” Karl also misstated the chant from white nationalists in Charlottesville in 2017; they chanted “Jews will not replace us,” not “Jews will not support us.”