Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump defended comments he made Saturday saying he saw thousands of people in Jersey City, New Jersey cheering when the World Trade Center was destroyed on September 11, 2001.
"There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey where you have large Arab populations,” he told George Stephanopoulos today on ABC’s “This Week.” "They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down -- as those buildings came down, and that tells you something. It was well covered at the time."
In response, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said Trump "has memory issues or willfully distorts the truth, either of which should be concerning for the Republican Party."
"Trump is plain wrong, and he is shamefully politicizing an emotionally charged issue. No one in Jersey City cheered on September 11th," Fulop said. "We were actually among the first to provide responders to help in lower Manhattan. Trump needs to understand that Jersey City will not be part of his hate campaign."
Trump first claimed to have seen the images of people cheering in New Jersey while speaking at a rally in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday.
"I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down, and I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down,” he said.
While there were images of people cheering the towers’ collapse in parts of the Middle East, there is no record of such celebrations in New Jersey. There were some Internet rumors of Muslims celebrating the towers’ fall in Paterson, New Jersey, but those rumors were discounted by local police at the time.