As many are calling the first presidential debate of 2020 a debacle, one of the most talked about moments was when former vice president Joe Biden and moderator Chris Wallace pressed President Trump to denounce white supremacy and to specifically denounce the group, Proud Boys. Controversy is swirling regarding how the president responded, and many are wanting to know: Who are the Proud Boys?
“The Proud Boys?” said President Trump. “Stand back and stand by, but I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what. Somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left, because this is not a right wing problem.”
The President Seems to Tell the Proud Boys to ‘stand back and stand by’
The above quote has been talked over quite a bit in the days following the presidential debate. Moderator Chris Wallace introduced the topic of white supremacy when he stated, “You have repeatedly criticized the vice president for not specifically calling out Antifa and other left wing extremist groups. But are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence in a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha and as we’ve seen in Portland?”
The president responded, “Sure, I’m willing to do that.” When both Biden and Wallace then asked him to directly denounce white supremacy, the president responded, “I would say, I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing. Not from the right wing.” The other two men again asked Trump for an explicit denouncement, and the president asked, “What do you want to call them? Give me a name.”
Wallace answered, “White supremacists and right radicals,” while Biden said, “White supremacists. Proud Boys.” Trump then made the “stand back and stand by” comment that has generated so much attention.
The day after the debate, President Trump told reporters he thought it went well, saying, “We got tremendous reviews on it.” When a reporter asked him what he meant when he said the Proud Boys should “stand back and stand by,” the president responded, “I don’t know who the Proud Boys are. I mean, you’ll have to give me a definition, because I really don’t know who they are. I can only say they have to stand down, let law enforcement do their work.”
When the reporter continued to press him about what he meant by “stand by,” the president said, “Just ‘stand by.’ Look, law enforcement will do their work. They’re going to stand down…whatever group you’re talking about, let law enforcement do the work.”
The president repeatedly brought his answers back to law enforcement and Antifa. When asked again about his views on white supremacy, he said, “Any form—any form of any of that, you have to denounce.”
Since the debate, the Proud Boys have created t-shirts with the phrase “Proud Boys Standing By” and “Stand Back and Stand By,” which they are advertising on the social media app Telegram.
They also posted in their channel, “Standing down and standing by sir.”