Monday on ABC’s “The View,” the panel battled former House Speaker Newt Gingrich over President Donald Trump’s response to the 2017 violence in Charlottesville, VA.

Co-host Abby Huntsman asked, “People go back to Charlottesville as one of the most hateful days in U.S. history. People blame the president for his lack of response. He said he handled it perfectly. Joe Biden used it in an 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 for hate right now?”

Gingrich said, “There’s this myth on the left that’s not true. If you go back and look at what Trump said, Trump says clearly that he was opposed to white supremacists, that he’s opposed to Klansmen, that he’s opposed to Nazis. He says it clearly.”

Co-hosts Joy Behar said, “It’s not that clear.”

Sunny Hostin added, “It’s not that clear.”

Gingrich shot back, “I think I could find video that shows it’s clear.”

Hostin continued, “Well it’s not. I have what he said right here. His first statement he said that ‘there was violence on many sides.’ Two days later, after all the backlash, is the first time he mentioned the KKK and neo-Nazis. And then the following day he still said, Newt, ‘you had some very bad people in that group, you also had some very fine people on both sides.’”

Gingrich replied, “If by ‘both sides’ — look, this is an interesting topic.”

Hostin said, “The statement is very interesting.”

Gingrich said, “Are we going to say if you are somebody who thought Robert E. Lee was a decent person, which by the way would be a high percentage of white Virginians –”

Behar asked, “Wasn’t he a traitor to the country.”

Hostin added, “And a slave holder, and a horrible person?”

Gingrich said, “Now you’re going to say everybody in the South who thinks that anybody was a reasonable person was, you know—”

Co-host Whoopi Goldberg interjected, “If you’re going to march with these folks, if you’re in the picture with them, it looks like you’re part of the problem. Even if you say they were good people, you have to understand that’s not what people see. 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 all of that stuff. I think that’s why people have a problem with it.”

Gingrich said, “The first point is when you look at organized groups like Antifa, there’s a fair amount of violence on the left.”

Goldberg shot back, “That’s not what we’re talking about, let’s stick with Charlottesville.”

Gingrich said, “You have a president whose daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren are Jewish. The idea that he’s Antisemitic is irrational. He’s not.”

Hostin continued, “No one said that, What we said, Speaker Gingrich, 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.”

Gingrich said, “It’s not intellectually dishonest. I’m disagreeing with your interpretation. Are you literally saying that everyone who favors having those statues is a bad human being?”

Goldberg said, “If you are 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 because that’s not how you feel, you’re going to lumped into that group.”

Behar asked, “Because he has a Jewish daughter and son-in-law and grandchildren, he can’t do both and give dog whistles to white nationalists? He can do both.”

Huntsman asked again, “Did he handle that perfectly?”

Gingrich said, “No, he didn’t. He didn’t handle it perfectly at the time.  I’m not going to come in here or anyway, even to a Republican group, and say 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 a reality.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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