Saturday, 24 Oct 2020

How Trump advisers feel about his Proud Boy comments at the debate

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump's advisers feel the president needs to outright condemn far-right extremists and white supremacy during his rally tonight in Minnesota.

Why it matters: Trump sent shockwaves during the debate for telling the far-right Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by."

  • The group is described by the Anti-Defamation League as "misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and anti-immigration."
  • Many congressional Republicans pressed Trump to correct the record today, including Tim Scott, the Senate's lone Black Republican.
  • The Trump campaign's view is that he was ambushed by the question and that the president doesn't even know who the Proud Boys are.
  • "We're aggressively pushing back on the narrative," one official told Axios.

Before boarding Marine One this afternoon, Trump told reporters he doesn't know the group, but they should stand down and let law enforcement do its work.

  • One Trump aide said this is a start, but that the general consensus among those close to the president is that he still needs to outright condemn far-right extremists.

Trump’s advisers are also planning to encourage the president to interrupt Joe Biden less in the next two debates.

  • Some Trump aides are privately frustrated with Chris Christie, who called Trump "a little too hot" on the stage after helping him with debate prep.
  • "It was a widely shared consensus," including from Christie, that Trump should be aggressive and go after Biden, one campaign official told Axios.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

What's next: Changes are coming to the debates, with an announcement to come shortly.

  • The Commission on President Debates said it needs "additional structure" before the remaining rounds to avoid last night's unwatchable mess.

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