Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Trump remarks: "That was not leadership"

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe says President Trump's remarks in the wake of the violent Charlottesville clashes were "not leadership."

"When I talked to him, he called me right before he gave his press conferences, and I told him, 'Mr. President, it's hatred, it's bigotry, it's racism, and it needs to stop in this country. Let us work together for reconciliation, let us go forward to bring our nation back to together again,'" McAuliffe said on "CBS This Morning" on Thursday. "He agreed with me on the phone call, but I don't understand the statements he made."

He added, "Those remarks are dividing people; we cannot be dividing people."

Speaking in his first national television interview since Saturday's clashes and attack, the Democratic governor called on Mr. Trump to revise his tone in speeches before visiting his state.

"If the president wants to come to Charlottesville and address our citizens, talk about how we can heal as a nation and how we need to move forward, then that is what the president of the United States should do. I do not want the president to come here to continue on with the speeches he's given for the last couple of days," McAullife said.

When asked if Confederate statues, like the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville at the center of the white supremacist rally that sparked Saturday's violence, should be taken down across the country, the governor supported that move, calling the monuments "divisive symbols."

"It's time for these monuments to come down, it's time for us to move together after what happened in Charlottesville," he said.

He added, however, that the issue at hand is not just about the taking down of Confederate monuments. 

"There was hatred, there was bigotry that has been unleashed in this country, and we need to understand how it's happened and most importantly what we can do to move forward," said McAullife. 

"I have lost three great citizens," McAullife said of the three fatalities on Saturday. "This is hatred, and we got to address it. These were not patriots, these were cowards."

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital