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Trump Complains About Moderator Chris Wallace But Calls 1st Debate 'Fun'

Sep 30, 2020
Originally published on September 30, 2020 4:25 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Even some Republicans are criticizing President Trump for being too hot during last night's wild debate. And the independent commission that organizes the debates says it is looking at additional structure and plans to announce new measures for a more orderly discussion in the next two debates. In another part of the show, we'll hear about what Democrat Joe Biden said about last night, and here's what the president had to say this afternoon.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I thought the debate last night was great. We've gotten tremendous reviews on it. We're hitting what people want - law and order.

SHAPIRO: The style and the substance of the debate have drawn a lot of criticism. And we're joined now by White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez.

Hi, Franco.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: So the president is declaring victory even though snap polls show that more voters believe Joe Biden won the debate. What is Trump's case considering how much criticism he has received for fueling the chaos last night?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah, that's right. The president is saying that it was an exciting evening and that the campaign says the president's debate tactics actually show that he's a tough leader. They're also pushing back on this idea that there needs to be changes to the rules. A campaign spokesman said today that they shouldn't be, quote, "moving the goalposts" and changing things in the middle of the game.

Now, you know, the debate didn't necessarily change where each candidate stands. Trump was, you know, trailing in many polls beforehand, and it's unclear whether that will change just because of this debate.

SHAPIRO: Well, one exchange last night that has gotten a lot of attention is a moment when the president was asked whether he would condemn white supremacist groups and tell them to stand down from violence. This is what he said.

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TRUMP: Sure, I'm...

CHRIS WALLACE: Are you prepared to specifically...

TRUMP: ...Willing to do that. But...

JOE BIDEN: Do it.

WALLACE: Well, go ahead, sir.

TRUMP: ...I would say - I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing.

WALLACE: So what are you...

TRUMP: If you look...

WALLACE: What are you saying...

TRUMP: I'm willing to do anything - I want to see peace.

WALLACE: Well, then do it, sir.

BIDEN: Say it. Do it. Say it.

TRUMP: Do you want to call them - what do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name. Go ahead...

WALLACE: White supremacists and right-wing militia.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Who would you like me to condemn?

BIDEN: The Proud Boys.

TRUMP: Who...

BIDEN: The Proud Boys.

TRUMP: ...The Proud Boys? Stand back, and stand by.

SHAPIRO: So the president there clearly not condemning white supremacists. What has the White House said about this comment to the Proud Boys, stand back, and stand by - the Proud Boys who've been labeled a hate group?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah, that's right. The president was pressed about that this afternoon. He said he didn't know who the Proud Boys were. He told reporters that he wanted them to stand down and that law enforcement should be allowed to do their work. And he also said that Joe Biden should denounce left-wing groups, like he did last night. That's who President Trump blames for all these violent protests. The White House also said that Trump really didn't need to clarify his statements, saying that, you know, he's condemned white supremacy in the past many times before.

SHAPIRO: Does the fact that he's having to address this the day after the debate create a political problem for him?

ORDOÑEZ: It does. You know, the campaign would much rather be talking about the gaffes that Joe Biden made. But instead, they're on their back fence here - pardon me - their back foot here. I spoke about this with Alex Conant, who worked on Sen. Marco Rubio's 2016 presidential campaign.

ALEX CONANT: You know, Trump needs to get on offense. That might like an odd (ph) - the entire debate attacking Biden. But none of those attacks seemed to stick. And instead, voter - instead, viewers were just left with chaos and noise.

ORDOÑEZ: Conant says that campaign needs to shift attention away from Trump and onto Biden's shortcomings.

SHAPIRO: That is NPR's Franco Ordoñez, White House correspondent.

Thank you very much.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.