"The President is not a racist."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) defended President Donald Trump from charges of racism after weekend tweets saying four congresswomen of color should return to their native countries. All of the congresswomen are American citizens.
However, both McConnell and Somerset's U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers made it clear the nasty rhetoric must end.
“I strongly disagree with the radical socialist policies presented by my colleagues across the aisle, and I share the President’s frustration that their rhetoric does not move the conversation forward," Rogers said. "But we can disagree without being disagreeable, and this entire conversation is a distraction from the real and imminent problems confronting the United States."
McConnell had a similar reaction.
The Senator said at a news conference Tuesday that political rhetoric has gotten "way, way overheated across the political spectrum." He pointed to Democratic comments, saying "we've seen the far left throw accusations of racism at everyone."
He also took a mild swipe at Trump, saying everyone "from the president to the speaker to the freshmen members of the House" should take a lesson from the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who said he attacked ideas, not people.
U.S. Rep James Comer also defended the President during a radio interview— although he did admit Trump's tweet was not well-worded.
"I think there's a level of frustration that the President has that he, unfortunately, took out in a probably not the best-worded tweet," Comer said. "But I think that the tweet has been overblown, and I think that we really need to move on and talk about the issues in Congress that the American people care about."
Comer added that he didn't feel Trump was racist — and added that most of his constituents were fine with Trump's tweet.
"My people are not offended by the tweet," Comer said. "They have become accustomed to the President's tweets. I have told the President in conversations that I feel like he would be better served if he didn't tweet as much.
"But I think we all know that the President is going to continue to tweet. That's his way of doing things. It's gotten him this far."
While the Kentucky lawmakers who weighed in on the controversial tweet took it relatively easy on the President, several other Republicans were a little more biting in their comments.
"I think what the President said was a mistake and an unforced error and that's about the total of my thoughts," Texas Sen. John Cornyn told CNN, adding later, "I don't think you are going to change somebody at this point in his life but hopefully he will, like all of us when we make a mistake, he'll learn from it."
When Utah Sen. Mitt Romney was asked in Trump's tweets were racist, he said, "You know, a lot of people have been using the word (racist) and my own view is that what was said, and what was tweeted, was destructive, was demeaning, was dis-unifying, and frankly, was very wrong."
Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt chastised the House Democrats, but added Trump should resort to those tactics.
"Just because the so-called squad constantly insults and attacks the President isn't a reason to adopt their unacceptable tactics," Blunt said in a statement. "There is plenty to say about how destructive House Democrats' policies would be for our economy, our health care system, and our security. I think that's where the focus should be."
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina — one of two black Republicans serving in Congress — said Trump used "racially offensive language."
"Instead of sharing how the Democratic Party's far-left, pro-socialist policies — not to mention the hateful language some of their members have used towards law enforcement and Jews — are wrong for the future of our nation, the President interjected with unacceptable personal attacks and racially offensive language," Scott said in his statement. "No matter our political disagreements, aiming for the lowest common denominator will only divide our nation further."
The House was set to debate over a resolution condemning Trump's tweets. But that debate was delayed when House Republicans objected to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-California) remarks calling Trump's tweets "disgraceful and disgusting and the comments were racist."