'We cannot hit the rewind button ... this is real life': Former Gov. Chris Christie

ABC News contributors Chris Christie and Rahm Emanuel analyze the government's response to novel coronavirus on "This Week."
12:35 | 03/22/20

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Transcript for 'We cannot hit the rewind button ... this is real life': Former Gov. Chris Christie
This is a very, very important meeting. As you obviously know. As it relates to domestic and our national security. There's no higher task to any administration than protecting the American people. Whether we're Democrats, Republicans, we'll have our policy differences. There's no policy difference when it comes to protecting the American people. People sitting on the beach in Asbury park, get the hell off the beach at Asbury park and get out. This is going to be an enormous storm and for New Jersey, something that we haven't seen in over 60 years. Don't waste any more time working on your tan. A flashback there. Governor Chris Christie who managed two major storms including hurricane sandy during his run as governor of new Jersey, and then incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, as he managed the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis. Rahm is out with a new book the nation city, why mayors are new running the world. Both join me now. Welcome, gentlemen. As we said, you both have experience managing crises. Mayor, how do you assess it's going right now? You don't need this insight. It's not going very, very well, because there's a lack of leadership in setting clear goals, bringing the country together, being honest and forthright about what the scope of the problem is, what are the goals to solve the problem? And how we have to pull together both the public sector, the private sector, with a singular focus of protecting the American people and then getting the economy moving. I do think some after a period of denial and delay, we're starting to finally deal with what we're dealing fast and furious the situation at hand. But we lost some critical time. That's water under the bridge. I don't believe -- I think the public health community raised the alarm. We're now dealing with it. But I think we have to get a more coordinated effort into going how to deal with that effort on the public health side. And you have two different principles here at play, the public health is looking at this from how to segregate and separate people. The economy is built on the principle of how to integrate people. Those two concepts are in conflict. So we have to figure out how to get the public health separation and then literally put a floor under the economy and bring that back to life as well. Both of those, because they're built on different principles, have to be done in a coordinated fashion. You're going to have to deal with science, data and facts and not try to manipulate information to make people feel good. That goes against his instincts and history. He'll have to actually change to lead this country in a unified effort. We have the capacity to do this but to date we've been slow off the start, denied the facts and we haven't brought the country together in an unified, national endeavor. We're capable of solving both the public health side and the economic side if we're working together. And governor Christie, what's your response to that? It certainly doesn't look like things have going well. Is that just water under the bridge? Well, there are two things here. First of all, three stages to this. Very early stage, when the president closed travel from China and was criticized by some for that. Everybody looks back on that decision and says that was a very wise one. Then, we had a period of where I think the public health officials were ahead of the political officials on this and we lost some time there. I agree with Rahm in that respect. That's time we can't get back and I also agree it's water under the bridge. Now, you have the third stage, in the third stage you're seeing the American people come together, I think you're seeing much more front and center folks like Dr. Fauci and others who are experts in this area and are giving people instruction on what to do. But there's no question at any time when you're dealing with any crisis, there are going to be competing interests in that crisis. You'll want to bring resources to bear as quickly as possible, but you're bringing them effectively. I think that's one of the real challenges now. Every day when I watch these press conferences and the press saying, how many tests are out there right now? Do you realize in government that you're always, the information you have right now is always lagging behind a bit what the reality is, the amount of information you have. I wished there was a less of an emphasis on that and more of an emphasis on asking, what's next? What I used to say to my folks in the aftermath of hurricane sandy, you have to rip off the rearview mirror, you have to say I have ten more decisions to make in the next hour. Let's make them, let's make smartly and forthrightly. Lastly, on the issue of transparency, I think the president has done better in the last week or so, since the roads garden press conference and being incredibly available to the press to answer questions. But governor, let me stop you there. I stop you there, because you saw it's water under the bridge. But we've got a crisis right now because of that water under the bridge. They don't have enough masks, they don't have enough ventilators, and we're getting mixed messages out of the white house all the time. There are some happy talk, and I understand that in a time of crisis, we're getting mixed messages about drugs and mixed messages we're getting about so many things that president trump will stand up there and Dr. Fauci will say something else. Well, listen, you're talking about two different things, Martha. It's in fact water under the bridge. We cannot hit the rewind button. This isn't like being on Netflix and hitting the rewind button. This is real life. If certain things weren't done as quickly should have been done, that's water under the bridge. Chris -- Hold on, Rahm. Everybody's responding. We can continue to put the rearview mirror on, there will be plenty of time after action report -- Here's what I would say to Chris, it's water under bridge. But you have to learn from failures if you're going to go forward and get it right. President Clinton was at the lowest moment of his presidency, criticized for helping Mexico to stabilize his peso, because he showed political courage at that time. A lot of criticism. Mexico paid it back and paid it with interest early. When the '98 financial contagion occurred around the world, America was the leader, because we learned about what happened in '94 and applied it forward in '98. It's water under the bridge. Every lesson tells you how to apply it forward. The president was right to stop flights from China and people coming in, but we didn't use that time. We didn't use that time that was provided and that was a mistake and that's one of the lessons now, we're applying to the public health issue a shutdown. The economy works on a different principle of integration, not separation. You have to have a coordinated strategy, we lost critical time, we have to have a president that actually then lays out very clearly here's what we're going to do en masse. Here's what we're going to to stand up icu units. Here's what we're going to do on ventilators. The economy, we're putting a floor under the economy to stabilize the financial market and then allow pieces of the economy to come back to life. He's got to lead this country. Mayor, I just want to drill down with governor Christie on the stimulus package that we now have, the rescue plan on the hill probably more than a trillion dollars, governor, do you think that will do it? Will that sustain this country month after month after month? First of all, I don't think the filibuster in the house, but Rahm is doing a pretty good job this morning. Let's talk about the things that have been done already. There have been two bills passed already signed by the president. Third one in negotiation planned to be done by tomorrow evening. Now, will that be enough? We don't know yet, Martha. Whether that will be enough. But we also know that we now had there were announcements yesterday and more tomorrow, on the manufacturing of enormous amount of ventilators being done in coordination with the private sector, like general motors and others, converting their plants to put ventilators into production. Part of the way to unite people, part of the way to bring them together, laying out the facts and setting clear goals for what we do next. During hurricane sandy, we called that four steps to normalcy, and for us it was -- restoring power, clearing the roads, returning children to schools and making sure gasoline was widely available not only for automobiles but for generators to people keep going. The president is now laying out those things going forward and has led with the governors. As a governor, I'm glad the as a governor, I'm glad that governors are as involved as they are. Governor Cuomo and governor Newsom, they know what's going on the ground. The white house has to work with them. FEMA being involved now is a great help as well. That's only as a result of the president declaring a national emergency. A number of things- Governor -- To help move things forward. The governors are no doubt, Martha and Chris, leading but they're doing it with one hand tied behind their back. At the local level, every one of us want to lead but have the resources of the federal government, you can't call in the defense act and not turn on the switch. This is a time where character is revealed. And the president has actually not led, he's been passive, he's not taken control of the situation and it runs against every instinct. You got to be forthright and honest where he's trying to spin. You got to deal with the data, the science and the facts. Rather than manipulate and withhold them. You got to set actually bring the country together rather than trying to pit one group against and people at the local level are stepping up is good. The reason they're stepping up is because there's been such a void left at the local level. With that being said, we have the ability to look at this and say, how do we move forward in this situation? In the first two, three months of president Obama's presidency, the financial stabilization and the plan to save the automobile and economic foundation of this country were all passed. On February 24th of the first year, president Obama gave his speech about what he would do whatever it takes to stabilize and move this economy forward. By March 10th, they started to happen in the market and the economy. It took a while to get the wheel turning. Brought the country together. Three major things were done. Within the first two months of his tenure -- And Chris -- I want to -- Mayor, I want to stop you. Chris, you have about 30 seconds to wrap up here. Let's talk about the facts on the defense production act. The president invoked in. When the white house started to call industries, those industries volunteered to do what the president was asking. You don't need to put a gun to somebody's head if they volunteer to do it. Let's get the facts straight here. The defense production act will be there. To build ventilators or masks or other personal protective equipment. No one has said no yet. That's an example of how great the America system is. How well it's going in the aftermath. We don't need more partisanship. I'm saying that to the president. We don't need more partisanship. We need cooperation. If we do that like we did after sandy -- Rahm, ten seconds. Then we really have to go. Never allow a crisis to go to waste. Start planning for the future. This has to be the last pandemic that creates an economic depression. We'll have more pandemics but this has to be the last economic depression. Okay, I want to thank you both, Rahm Emanuel and governor Christie. Thank very much for joining us this morning.

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

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