Kamala Harris: Donald Trump is no John McCain

Responding to President Trump's dubious claims that he tried to stop a racist chant directed at Rep. Ilhan Omar at his rally Wednesday night, 2020 candidate Sen. Kamala Harris condemned the president's "empty words" and argued that he is nothing compared to a "real American leader like John McCain."

"I just think they're empty words, Jake. The chant was created not by the crowd, but by the president's tweets, and it's obvious, it's really not a debatable point. And I think it is clearly not a sign of real leadership. I think you have mentioned it. Contrast it with a real American leader like John McCain, who during the campaign in 2008, he stood up, he spoke up. He was -- you know, he understood as an American hero, that the voice of someone who wants to be, much less is the president of the United States, must be about elevating discourse, that is about speaking to our better selves. This president keeps finding new lows. I would like to say it's shocking, but at some point it's sadly predictable."

Flashback: In 2008, McCain — a sworn enemy of Trump's even after his death — shot down claims by a supporter that President Obama couldn't be trusted as president because he was "an Arab."

  • "No ma'am," McCain told the supporter. "No ma'am. He's a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that's what this campaign is all about."

The big picture: A number of Republicans have criticized Trump for his recent racist tweets about 4 Democratic women of color, urging him to attack their policies instead. The chant about Omar, a Muslim woman who came to the U.S. as a teenage refugee, has prompted a new wave of outcry. Even Trump on Thursday attempted to distance himself from the crowd's ugly words, claiming that he "wasn't happy with that message they gave last night" — despite using similar language in his tweets.

Go deeper: Trump says he disagrees with "send her back" chants about Ilhan Omar

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Trump says he disagrees with "send her back" chants about Ilhan Omar

President Trump on Thursday denied responsibility for the "send her back" chant directed at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) at a North Carolina campaign rally on Wednesday, and falsely claimed that he "started speaking very quickly" to cut off the chant after it began.

Go deeperArrowJul 18, 2019 - Politics

Trump supporters echo his racist tweets, chanting "send her back"

Trump arrives at the "Make America Great Again" rally at Minges Coliseum in Greenville, North Carolina, on July 17. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Trump supporters chanted "send her back" at a re-election rally on Wednesday, after President Trump listed his grievances with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)

The big picture: The House voted 240-187 yesterday to condemn Trump's racist tweets against the 4 Democratic congresswomen of color, all of whom are American citizens. In his tweets, Trump said the congresswomen should "go back" to where they came from.

Go deeperArrowJul 18, 2019 - Politics

AOC: Trump's immigration policies are really about ethnicity and racism

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said at a New York City town hall Saturday that President Trump's "go back" tweets targeting her and 3 other Democratic congresswomen of color show his hardline immigration policies are really about racism.

Once you start telling American citizens to quote 'go back to your own countries,' this tells you that this president's policies are not about immigration, it's about ethnicity and racism."

Why it matters: Trump's associates told Axios' Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen that race-baiting is central to his 2020 strategy. Per Axios' Sara Fischer, much of Trump's Facebook spending is focused heavily on immigration messaging, as he targets older, white voters and Latino voters.

The big picture: During her town hall, broadcast on The National Desk's Facebook page, Ocasio-Cortez rejected Trump's claim that he tried to quiet a "send her back" chant directed at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) during a North Carolina campaign rally on Wednesday.

"Roll back the tape. ... He relished it. He took it in and he's doing this intentionally."

Go deeper: A tough time to be a Trump supporter