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Republican Sen. Cory Gardner demands Trump ‘lay blame on white nationalists and on hatred’

Author: Ernest Luning - August 13, 2017 - Updated: August 14, 2017

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"White nationalists, white supremacists, they're not a part of anybody's base. They're not a part of this country. They're a part of hatred, they're a part of evil, and we need to stand up to that," U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said in an interview about a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, with Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union" show Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. (CNN screen capture)“White nationalists, white supremacists, they’re not a part of anybody’s base. They’re not a part of this country. They’re a part of hatred, they’re a part of evil, and we need to stand up to that,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said in an interview about a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, with Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” show Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017. (CNN screen capture)

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, turned up the heat on President Donald Trump Sunday, demanding the president explicitly condemn white supremacists and white nationalists for the violence that left one dead and dozens injured in Charlottesville, Va., this weekend.

“This is not a time for vagaries, this isn’t a time for innuendo or to allow room to be read between the lines,” Gardner told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview. “This is a time to lay blame — to lay blame on bigotry, to lay blame on white nationalists and on hatred, and that needs to be said.”

Trump has been under increasing pressure to call out white nationalists and members of the so-called alt-right movement who staged rallies in Charlottesville to protest the city’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park. Virginia’s governor declared a state of emergency after a torch-lit march turned violent Friday night and clashes erupted between white nationalists and counter-protesters Saturday.

Trump blamed “many sides” for the violence in brief comments delivered from his New Jersey golf club, ignoring reporters’ questions asking what he thought about the white nationalists at the rally who said they support him and were inspired by his presidential campaign.

Gardner noted that Trump has “done an incredible job of naming terrorism around the globe as evil” and called on him bring the same unequivocal approach to the Charlottesville violence.

“This president needs to do exactly that today, to call this white supremacism, this white nationalism ‘evil,’ and let the country hear it, let the world hear it. It’s something that needs to come from the Oval Office, and the president needs to do it today,” Gardner said.

Gardner was one of the first Republican senators to call out Trump for failing to blame white supremacists for the escalating violence.

“This is nothing short of domestic terrorism & should be named as such,” Gardner wrote in a tweet after news of the car driving into the crowd of counter-protesters broke.

About an hour later, Gardner tweeted, “Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”

In the CNN interview, Gardner rejected Tapper’s suggestion that the president might be hesitating to point a finger at members of his political base.

“White nationalists, white supremacists, they’re not a part of anybody’s base,” Gardner said. “They’re not a part of this country. They’re a part of hatred, they’re a part of bigotry, they’re a part of evil, and we need to stand up to that. Whether it’s the president of the United States, a senator from any of our great 50 states around the country, or our city councils and school teachers, call it for what it is. It’s hatred, it’s bigotry. We don’t want them in our base, they shouldn’t be in a base, they shouldn’t be claimed as part of a base, and it has to be made crystal clear.”

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke criticized Trump for ignoring his base when the president issued a first tweet condemning the violence in general terms.

“I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists,” Duke wrote in a tweet.

Gardner, who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told Tapper that he wasn’t talking about partisan politics.

“It isn’t about Republicans or Democrats, this is about anybody with any common-sense decency and dignity for human life and the values we hold as a country,” Gardner said.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.


3 comments

  • betty McKinley

    August 13, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    The president was exactly right in his response, there was wrong done on both sides of the protesters , both sides were being violent.

  • Tannim

    August 14, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Criticism of whole includes and is greater than criticism of a part.

    Gardner must have flunked that part of kindergarten math where they taught “part < whole."

  • Tannim

    August 14, 2017 at 11:48 am

    BTW, this was a crime, not domestic terrorism. Terrorism requires a political change motive.

    Gardner and others keep using that term, and it does not mean what they think it means.

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