‘If the Democrats choose to want to unite around Omar, it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out for them…’
(John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call) President Donald Trump is not backing down after calling on leftist Democratic congresswomen to “go back” to the countries of their ancestry, tweeting on Monday that they should apologize — not him.
The president on Sunday drew immediate outrage from Democratic members and other critics when he lashed out at a handful of freshman House Democrats who have been in a war of words with Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California while also sharply criticizing Trump since before they took office in January. They also support impeachment proceedings against him.
He took to Twitter before a round of golf Sunday to say Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts all originally are from “complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world.”
Trump then fired off a second Sunday tweet with this broadside: “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.”
But as the workweek began, Trump did what he so often does with his rhetorical battles: He doubled down.
The White House on Monday zeroed in on Omar, who was pressured into apologizing earlier this year for comments even many Democrats described as anti-Semitic.
“If the Democrats choose to want to unite around Omar, it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out for them,” Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, said in a TV interview.
Short, who has been Trump’s top congressional envoy and a leading public defender, urged critics who call the president “racist” to look at the “reality of who serves in Donald Trump’s Cabinet.”
Just what Short meant is unclear because most of Trump’s Cabinet is white; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is black and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was born in Taipei and has Chinese parents.
Short contended that Trump’s Sunday tweet was him “making a point about a great frustration that a lot of people feel: It’s hard to find anything that Ilhan Omar has said since elected to Congress that’s positive about the United States of America.”
Trump used a tweet about an hour after his first Monday morning post to echo Short.
“If Democrats want to unite around the foul language & racist hatred spewed from the mouths and actions of these very unpopular & unrepresentative Congresswomen, it will be interesting to see how it plays out,” he wrote. “I can tell you that they have made Israel feel abandoned by the U.S.”
Republican lawmakers have mostly been mum since the president’s Sunday tweet. Trump still polls in the high 80 percent level with Republican voters, and even higher with staunch conservatives.
Trump on Monday cast himself as the victim.
“When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said,” he tweeted Monday morning. “So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!”
Trump’s decision to attack the so-called “Squad,” a nickname the four freshman congresswomen have taken on, comes amid his highest approval ratings since he took office. A Washington Post-ABC News survey put his approval rating at 47 percent; it had hovered around 40 percent for most of his term.
Pelosi and other Democrats, including the ones to which Trump was alluding, quickly responded, with the speaker calling his tweets “xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation.” And Ocasio-Cortez posted a series of tweets, including one that had this message for the president: “Mr. President, the country I ‘come from,’ & the country we all swear to, is the United States.
“But given how you’ve destroyed our border with inhumane camps, all at a benefit to you & the corps who profit off them, you are absolutely right about the corruption laid at your feet,” she said, referring to migrant detention camps that she other Latino lawmakers toured during the July 4 recess and reported squalor-like conditions and very children struggling to cope.
©2019 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.