Colorado’s Rep. Doug Lamborn tweets blistering criticism of Trump’s Charlottesville response
Author: Erin Prater - August 16, 2017 - Updated: August 16, 2017
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs tweeted a scathing criticism Wednesday of the president’s remarks about the weekend’s racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia — the Republican congressman’s strongest statement yet on the topic.
“The KKK, Neo-Nazis, and White Supremacists and Nationalists are abhorrent,” Lamborn posted to Facebook and Twitter. “Statements that provide even indirect comfort to these merchants of evil are unacceptable and wrong.”
Included with his Facebook post was a link to a Tuesday Wall Street Journal article, “Trump Says ‘Both Sides’ to Blame in Charlottesville Violence.”
The two Republicans challenging Lamborn in next year’s GOP primary joined the incumbent repudiating Trump’s recent remarks.
“I was disappointed,” El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn told Colorado Politics Wednesday. “The recent actions by white extremist, neo-Nazi groups and their supporters are unacceptable and must be clearly condemned and repudiated at every turn.”
State Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, called on conservatives to “excise violent extremists like neo-Nazis from the fringes of our party” and rejected Trump’s contention that there was more than one side to the question, although he included leftist Antifa — shorthand for anti-fascists — among those propagating political violence.
“There is no place in our political dialogue for mob violence, right or left. The sick ideology of white supremacy and neo-Naziism must be fought relentlessly in our community. Mercy, compassion, justice: these are the tools conservatives and Christians must use to defeat political violence from neo-Nazis or Antifa. Just as Christ excised the tax collectors and the money lenders from the temple, conservatives must excise violent extremists like neo-Nazis from the fringes of our party,” Hill told Colorado Politics in a written statement. “There are no ‘two sides’ to this issue and no room for ‘grey area’ in our dialogue on it: everything good about our nation is diametrically opposed to such corrupted views of our fellow man.”
Sunday, Lamborn had tweeted that President Trump should “call it like it is” regarding the violence in Charlottesville.
The tweet included a link to an article from Colorado Springs ABC affiliate KRDO, in which Lamborn is quoted as saying, “If it’s an act of domestic terrorism, then the president should call a spade a spade. Yes, the president should call it like it is.”
Lamborn joins other members of Colorado’s congressional delegation in criticizing the president’s response to Charlottesville.
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Yuma, criticized Trump’s response at a Lakewood town hall, saying, “What we saw over the weekend in Charlottesville — bigotry, racism, hatred — we will not stand for as a country. There is no moral equivalent to the hatred we saw.”
At a series of town hall meetings on Tuesday, Gardner also used his strongest language yet regarding the violence in Charlottesville, stating that racists should “go back into their cave.”
On Tuesday Trump defiantly blamed “both sides” for the weekend violence between white supremacists and counter-demonstrators in Virginia, seeking to rebuff the widespread criticism of his handling of the emotionally-charged protests while showing sympathy for the fringe group’s efforts to preserve Confederate monuments.
His remarks Tuesday amounted to a rejection of the Republicans, business leaders and White House advisers who earlier this week had pushed the president to more forcefully and specifically condemn the KKK members, neo-Nazis and white supremacists who took to the streets of Charlottesville.
In his remarks, Trump condemned bigoted ideology and called James Alex Fields Jr., who drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, “a disgrace to himself, his family and his country.”
The president’s comments effectively wiped away the more conventional statement he delivered at the White House a day earlier when he branded the white supremacists who take part in violence as “criminals and thugs.” Trump’s advisers had hoped those remarks might quell criticism of his initial response, but the president’s retorts Tuesday suggested he had been a reluctant participant in that cleanup effort.
Once again, the blowback was swift, including from fellow Republicans. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Trump should not allow white supremacists “to share only part of the blame.” House Speaker Paul Ryan declared in a tweet that “white supremacy is repulsive” and there should be “no moral ambiguity,” though he did not specifically address the president.
Trump’s remarks were welcomed by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who tweeted: “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth.”
Some of the president’s comments Tuesday mirrored rhetoric from the far-right fringe. A post Monday by the publisher of The Daily Stormer, a notorious neo-Nazi website, predicted that protesters are going to demand that the Washington Monument be torn down.
Trump’s handling of the weekend violence has raised new and troubling questions, even among some supporters. Members of his own Republican Party have pressured him to be more vigorous in criticizing bigoted groups, and business leaders have begun abandoning a White House jobs panel in response to his comments.
Trump, who has quickly deemed other deadly incidents in the U.S. and around the world as acts of terrorism, waffled when asked whether the car death was a terrorist attack.
As he finally walked away from his lectern, he stopped to answer one more shouted question: Would he visit Charlottesville? The president noted he owned property there and said — inaccurately — that it was one of the largest wineries in the United States.
— Colorado Politics’ Ernest Luning and The Associated Press contributed to this report.