Updated Jul 16, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Republican backlash builds after Trump's racist tweets

Trump standing at a podium.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's racist tweets over the weekend attacking Democratic congresswomen of color have drawn some pushback from his Republican colleagues.

What they're saying: Republicans have come out to condemn the president's comments — with Michigan Rep. Fred Upton saying that he was "appalled" and found the president's rhetoric "flat out wrong and uncalled for."

  • Texas Rep. Pete Olson tweeted: "I urge our President immediately disavow his comments."
  • Texas Rep. Will Hurd told CNN that the tweets were "racist and xenophobic."
  • Texas Rep. Chip Roy tweeted: "POTUS was wrong to say any American citizen, whether in Congress or not, has any 'home' besides the U.S."
  • Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich tweeted: "What @realDonaldTrump said about Democrat women in Congress is deplorable and beneath the dignity of the office."
  • Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey told CNN Trump's comments were "wrong," adding, "We should defeat their ideas on the merits, not on the basis of their ancestry."
  • Maine Sen. Susan Collins said in a statement that the comments were "way over the line" and encouraged the president to take down his tweets.
  • Ohio Rep. Mike Turner tweeted that the president's remarks were "racist and he should apologize."
  • South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, stated that the president's remarks consisted of "racially offensive language." He added, "No matter our political disagreements, aiming for the lowest common denominator will only divide our nation further."
  • Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake tweeted: "There are times when the President's comments are so vile and offensive that it is incumbent on Republicans to respond and condemn. This is one of those times."
  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld called the comments "racist attacks."
  • Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez said the tweets were "wildly inappropriate."
  • Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell wrote the comments were "beneath leaders."
  • New York Rep. Elise Stefanik said the comments were "inappropriate, denigrating, and wrong," according to the Post Star.
  • Indian Rep. Susan Brooks said the comments "do not reflect American values."
  • Pennsylvania Rep. Lloyd Smucker stated "racially-motivated statements or behavior is totally unacceptable and unbecoming of our great nation."
  • New York Rep. John Katko said the president's remarks were "wrong," adding, "criticism should focus on policy."
  • Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski tweeted: "there is no excuse for the president’s spiteful comments."
  • Utah Sen. Mitt Romney told NBC 10 that the president "fell far short" in his comments.
  • Texas Sen. John Cornyn told CNN he thinks "what the President said was a mistake and an unforced error."
  • Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt said in a statement to CNN that the president used "unacceptable tactics" in attacking the women.
  • Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole tweeted, "Use of such language is inappropriate and demeans the office of the presidency."
  • Ohio Sen. Rob Portman told CNN, "That's not something I would say, and I think it's divisive, unnecessary and wrong."
  • New York Rep. Peter King's spokesperson told CNN, "The tweets were inappropriate and wrong."

The other side: Trump defended his comments on Monday by stating that he didn't specifically name anyone in his tweets. Four progressive Democratic congresswomen of color — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley — have made recent headlines for clashing with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

  • Trump subsequently singled out Omar for a series of critiques, including falsely claiming she'd praised al-Qaeda.
  • "If somebody has a problem with our country, if somebody doesn't want to be in our country, they should leave." Trump wrote.

Republican leadership has also taken a stand on the matter:

  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a press conference Tuesday that he does not believe Trump's tweets were racist. "I think the president clarified that," he added.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, "The president is not a racist" at a press conference Tuesday. He added that politicians "from the president to the speaker to the freshmen members of the House" should recall Justice Antonin Scalia's message to attack ideas and not people.

The big picture: Three of the four congresswomen Trump targeted are American-born, with Omar the only naturalized U.S. citizen. Pelosi has announced the drafting of a House resolution condemning Trump's tweets.

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