Presidential candidate Julián Castro was one of several 2020 Democrats to criticize President Trump's visit to the North Korean side of the DMZ on Sunday, claiming that without tangible progress on denuclearization, Trump is doing nothing but "raising the profile, growing the strength of a dictator."
"I am all for speaking with our adversaries, but what's happened here is that this president has raised the profile of a dictator like Kim Jong-un and now three times visited with him unsuccessfully, because he's doing it backward. ... It's worrisome that this president erratically sets up a meeting without the staff work being done. It seems like it's all for show, not substantive. ... I don't think it's fitting for the U.S. to continue to erratically meet with a dictator when they haven't abided by the first terms."
What they're saying:
- Sen. Bernie Sanders on ABC's "This Week": "I have no problem with [Trump] sitting down with Kim Jong-un in North Korea or anyplace else. But I don't want it simply to be a photo opportunity. ... We need real diplomacy. ... I wish he would sit down with the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia and bring Iran into the discussion. ... Bring them to a table, let's work out some lasting peace in the region. ... On the other hand, we also have a president who seems to love authoritarian people, whether it's Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia, whether it's Kim Jong-un. You don't have to say positive things about brutal dictators. You should sit down and negotiate with them."
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), tweeted: "Our President shouldn’t be squandering American influence on photo ops and exchanging love letters with a ruthless dictator. Instead, we should be dealing with North Korea through principled diplomacy that promotes US security, defends our allies, and upholds human rights."
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar on CNN's "State of the Union: "I don't think we know if it works until there is results. And we've seen a history here, especially in this case, where Donald Trump announces these summits and nothing comes out of it. Of course, as a country, we want this to work. We want to see a denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a reduction in these missiles. But it's not as easy as just going and bringing a hot dish over the fence to the dictator next door. This is a ruthless dictator, and when you go forward, you have to have clear focus and a clear mission and clear goals."
- Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke on CBS' "Face the Nation": "Despite three years of almost bizarre foreign policy from this president, this country is no safer when it comes to North Korea. They have removed none of their nuclear weapons or their potential to deliver them to the United States. And, in fact, in contravention of the United Nations, they have launched other missiles, flouting the diplomacy that this president has attempted so far. So we've added legitimacy to Kim Jong-un."
- Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign spokesman Andrew Bates told CBS News: "President Trump's coddling of dictators at the expense of American national security and interests is one of the most dangerous ways he's diminishing us on the world stage and subverting our values as a nation."
This article has been updated to include comments by Biden's campaign and Warren.