WASHINGTON – The four Democratic congresswomen who President Donald Trump told to “go back” to their countries rejected the president’s attacks on Monday, condemning his tweets as racist and calling them a distraction from the issues facing the country, including the detention of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York told reporters at the Capitol that they were not surprised by the president’s attacks and vowed not to be silenced by them.
“This is the agenda of white nationalists. … This is his plan to pit us against one another,” Omar said.
Trump said earlier Monday that he is not concerned by criticism that his tweets were racist, asserting that the congresswomen hate the United States and are free to leave. Three of the four were born in the United States; the fourth, Omar, came to the U.S. from Somalia and became a citizen as a teenager.
Pressley began by voicing gratitude for the support the four have received in light of the “most recent xenophobic, bigoted remarks from the occupant of our White House.”
“I encourage the American people and all of us — in this room and beyond — to not take the bait,” Pressley said. “This is a disruptive distraction from the issues of care, concern and consequence to the American people that we were sent here with a decisive mandate from our constituents to work on.”
Addressing the children of the United States, Ocasio-Cortez rejected Trump’s words and said that they were the opposite of what America stands for.
“No matter what the president says, this country belongs to you. And it belongs to everyone. … This weekend, that very notion was challenged,” she said.
She said Trump was launching personal attacks on the congresswomen – including accusing them of hating the United States – because he wasn’t able to debate them on policy grounds.
“Weak minds and leaders challenge loyalty to our country in order to avoid challenging and debating the policy,” she said.
And Omar defended the comments that she and her colleagues have made as coming “from a place of extreme love for every single person in this country.”
Asked about Trump’s suggestion earlier Monday that she supports al Qaeda, Omar replied: “I will not dignify it with an answer.”
Trump tweeted another broadside against the Democratic congresswomen while the press conference was underway.
“The Dems were trying to distance themselves from the four ‘progressives,’ but now they are forced to embrace them,” he said. “That means they are endorsing Socialism, hate of Israel and the USA! Not good for the Democrats!”