President Trump has faced criticism for not being strong enough in his condemnation of Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis who staged a rally in Charlottesville last weekend — and for saying “all sides” were responsible for the violence that ensued.
The criticism intensified after the president’s impromptu news conference Tuesday in which he seemed to backtrack from his more measured remarks Monday.
His predecessors, meanwhile, have joined a growing throng of politicians who have denounced the hatred that was on public display.
The latest statement comes from former president George H.W. Bush and his son former president George W. Bush.
Their joint statement said:
America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms. As we pray for Charlottesville, we are reminded of the fundamental truths recorded by that city’s most prominent citizen in the Declaration of Independence: we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country.
The words followed former president Barack Obama’s tweet in the wake of the Unite the Right rally, which became one of the most-liked tweets in history.
It showed a picture of Obama interacting with babies of different races.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion,” he tweeted, quoting former South African president Nelson Mandela. “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love … For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Reactions to Trump’s post-Charlottesville statements have not been as positive.
Speaking hours after a man plowed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a woman, Trump condemned “the egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”
After the criticism of Trump’s response, he had a stronger — and more specific — condemnation at a Monday news conference.
Trump called out the hate groups by name, saying, “Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to all that we hold dear as Americans.”
But he appeared to reverse course in a news conference Tuesday, saying that “both sides” were to blame for the violence and that counterprotesters acted “very very violently” and came “with clubs in their hands.”
Lawmakers from both sides denounced the president’s Tuesday remarks, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), in a series of Twitter messages.
“Mr. President, you can’t allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame,” Rubio wrote. “The #WhiteSupremacy groups will see being assigned only 50% of blame as a win. We can not allow this old evil to be resurrected.”