‘Stand back and stand by’ Trump said when asked to condemn white supremacy

A full recap of contentious moments from the first presidential debate between President Trump and Joe Biden.
5:34 | 09/30/20

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Transcript for ‘Stand back and stand by’ Trump said when asked to condemn white supremacy
And you're not a break down the night is ABC news political director Rick Klein and Rick good morning certainly lots to talk about here's let's get right to it. What's your take overall on what you saw last night and what other campaigns saying about this. This was an embarrassment for democracy it was ugly it was heady it was that this is. I didn't name calling the interruptions. It was an absolute mess and and I don't think it reflected well on either candidate or on the entire political process. Both campaigns are saying as there want to do that their side one. President trumps camp. Campaign go as far as it was the best debate performance in the history of campaigns out but of course that's not the case and I think anyone who watched including many trump supporters. That we've been talking to privately acknowledge that this was not a good debate for the president. I think Joseph Biden I had maybe a slightly better night for you drew grating on a curve here because he did take the date there's a lot of name calling he engaged as well I think presidential deserves a lot of the blame. For the week that this it is debates evolved but neither candidate particularly. Distinguished himself and there just wasn't a lot of positive things he you can say about this some of the moments we remember. Some of the moments. That would that we just played I think are critical to understanding the men. But that's just just an otter and. Complete mess last night they are given all talk about Joseph Biden's cotton and inability by the president going into this it seem like he was maybe trying to. Trip by an up and see if you can get tempted to be confused Georgian trail offer loses place. Do you think the network it I got. Some worry texts from Democrats last night we're at it seems like Joseph Biden was flustered when he was off his game a little bit is having a hard time deleting some of the policy positions. And I think he didn't frankly didn't do what he wanted to do in terms of ignoring president job he took the bait if you times. And you don't call them a clown called a liar all the worst president in American history. That may be music to the ears of many Democrats but it wasn't the mess is that Joseph Biden has been trying to project which is essentially. Dad of a grown up. And look I don't think Joseph Biden answered all the questions about his campaign I in his in his abilities in going toe to toe with telephone last night I think she. Clearly was a more measured for warmer than than Donald Trump who went off the rails and some more dangerous directions. But I don't think that Biden supporters are Democrats had a lot less like to point to as the either and then say that their man did a great job. I want talk about a moment that's generating a lot of outrage this morning and I want to explain exactly how it happened moderator Chris Wallace asked president trumpet he would condemn white supremacist and militia groups. And tell them to stand down. Joseph Biden and named a proud boys as an example and the president responded saying proud boys to stand back and stand by. What is the trump campaign saying about that moment and what's the reaction to that in general. It's a startling moment of course that is not happening in a vacuum this is a president talked about very fine people on both sides in Charlottesville who. I took a long time this is insult from David duke during its when he sixteen campaign. The truck campaign is claiming that what the president saying there is a clear signal for them so to back off to back away. That isn't though how that particular group has received it may turn into a rallying cry they're even. Touching some of their merchandising to reflect that they are celebrating the fact. That the president. Responded in that way sky near reading it as an encouragement for them to be ready to go in case something I case or services are needed whether that's this poll watchers whether that's. About violence on the streets what have you they are celebrating the fact that the president did only not only did not condemn but by issued what could be viewed as a rallying cry and again I think it's important to recognize. This president has done this before and he has. It consistently refused to call out white supremacist directly when invited specifically to do so he is very lows and it took to denounce anyone who he perceives us as up of political supporter and anyway. Rick if this was in fact not misinterpret it but misspoken that that this isn't the way that he meant it to come out. What kind of a retraction does the campaign have to do today in order to correct up. Yeah we heard from Chris Christie earlier this morning we ABC news contributor also a day in advisor to presidential on debates he said he needs to clean it up at the first opportunity that he has to. I need a you can do that in a statement obviously the president has no shortages megaphones on Twitter. Is access to lots of inner you form you name it he's got he can do it. He can do it whenever he likes he can certainly doing well in advance of the next debating two weeks. But there is a growing chorus of folks on his side who say a look at the very least she got to try to clean this thing up. Some people are saying that given how ugly last night got that they shouldn't be any more debates this year I find I'm guessing that's unlikely but. Could we see a format change may be commuting of the microphone at the other candidates turn or something like that art. He is seeing how they argue and how they handle these kinds of situations part of the process. Yeah couple things remember I mean debate rules are agreed to by the candidates for the candidates themselves. Have to enforce another on those two men want to be president at sonic Chris Wallace of the Commission on Presidential Debates or anyone else to tell them how they conduct themselves there it's up to them. I don't know how you practically talk about meeting microphones and a like I think like that just that freezes all sorts of other issues. Keep in mind though staying maybe this is an optimistic tone it next week we're gonna have the vice presidential debate I think it's fair to say that senator Harris the vice president pens are gonna bring a different tone of the conversation French police are now it's a town hall style debate it will be an entirely different format the moderator seaspan Steve Scully. He's going to be throwing to questions from audience members who are uncommitted voters around the country. It's harder for me to imagine the candidates talking over each other interrupting each other insulting each other when you've got questions from real voters but job I guess we've been surprised before. Her analogic a lot of people are hoping that's the case Rick Klein in Washington Forrest thanks Rick.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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