Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich debates the hosts of ABC's "The View" about President Trump's "very fine people" comment in response to the race riot in Charlottesville, Virginia in summer 2017:
ABBY HUNTSMAN: People go back to Charlottesville as one of the ugliest days in U.S. history, and some people blame the president for the hate that we're seeing now and his lack of response. He recently said he handled it "perfectly." Even Joe Biden used it in his recent announcement ad talking about we're in a battle for our soul. Do you think the president handled it perfectly or is he part of the reason why there is such division and hate right now?
NEWT GINGRICH: It's a good question. I watched your show on Friday and the interview with Biden. I want to start by saying that there's this myth on the left. It's not true. Go back and look at what Trump said. Trump said clearly he was opposed to the white supremacists and he was opposed to Klansmen, he was opposed to Nazis. He says it clearly.
JOY BEHAR: It's not that clear.
SUNNY HOSTIN: It's not that clear.
NEWT GINGRICH: I think I can find video that shows it's pretty darn clear.
SUNNY HOSTIN: It's not. I have what he said right here. His first statement he said "there was violence on many sides," two days later after all the backlash is the first time he even mentioned the KKK and neo-Nazis and on the following day he still said, Newt, "you had some very bad people in that group and some very fine people on both sides."
NEWT GINGRICH: If by both sides -- and look, this is an interesting topic. Are we going to say if you were somebody who thought Robert E. Lee was a decent person, which would be a high percentage of white Virginians.
JOY BEHAR: Wasn't he a traitor to the country?
SUNNY HOSTIN: Wasn't he a slave trader? And a horrible person?
NEWT GINGRICH: Now you're going to say everybody in the South who thinks anybody is a reasonable person is, you know--
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: What might have worked better, if those good people he alluded to looked over and saw some of the placards and the anti-Semitic things that were written and being said, they might have marched in a different march.
NEWT GINGRICH: I think they would have.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: If you see that, you leave. If you're going to march with these folks and you're in the picture with them, it looks like you are part of the problem. Even if you say they were good people, you have to understand that that's not what people see, because you figure if you're a good person and you're marching for the monument, you're not going to let people say, well, you know, we're not going to let jews take over our lives. And no more Jews and no more blacks and stuff.
NEWT GINGRICH: I want to make two points if I could... The first point is when you look at organized groups like Antifa, there's a fair amount of violence on the left.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: That's not what we're talking about. Let's stick with Charlottesville.
NEWT GINGRICH: The second point is, you have a president whose daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren are Jewish. The idea that he's anti-Semitic is irrational. He's not.
SUNNY HOSTIN: No one said that. What we said is that he said you had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides. The suggestion somehow that he did not say that is intellectually dishonest.
NEWT GINGRICH: I'm disagreeing with your interpretation. Are you literally saying that everyone who favors having those statues is somehow a bad human being?
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: If you're marching with people wearing signs that say down with Jews, Jews are not going to take over our lives, and you don't step away, you're lumped into that group. That's what we're saving.
JOY BEHAR: Because he has a Jewish daughter and son in law and grandchildren, that he can't do both, have that and also give dog whistles to white nationalists.
NEWT GINGRICH: He doesn't do that.
JOY BEHAR: He does.
NEWT GINGRICH: He disagrees.
JOY BEHAR: I never heard him go out there and say my daughter is Jewish my grandchildren are Jewish, I never heard that.
ABBY HUNTSMAN: You didn't answer my first question, though. Did he handle that perfectly?
NEWT GINGRICH: No, he didn't.
ABBY HUNTSMAN: There's so much confusion. People are angry still about that day and the lack of response.
NEWT GINGRICH: I said he didn't handle it perfectly at the time. I'm not going to come in here or anywhere, even to a Republican group, and say I think Donald Trump does anything perfectly. Donald Trump has a very powerful personality who at times steps on his own messages and makes mistakes. That's the reality.