WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Will Hurd called Donald Trump’s tweets “racist and xenophobic.” Pete Olson and Chip Roy were also critical, with Olson saying the president should “disavow his comments.”
But the bulk of the Texas GOP delegation has remained silent on the matter after Trump said that four Democratic women of color in Congress should “go back” to the “broken and crime infested places from which they came.” But they will likely be called to weigh in soon, with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing she’ll call a vote on a resolution condemning the president’s racist words.
Trump made the comments on Twitter on Sunday morning, writing that the four members — U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — "who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe," should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
All four members are citizens; only Omar was born outside the country, in Somalia.
Most of the Texas Republicans who weighed in are top offensive targets for House Democrats next year. Hurd, a Republican from Helotes, told CNN that the "tweets are racist and xenophobic. They're also inaccurate."
Hurd, the most frequent Trump critic among Texas congressional Republicans, further stated that the sentiment Trump expressed was "unbecoming of the leader of the free world" and suggested that comment was a distraction from an increasingly hostile civil war between the progressive members Trump referenced and Democratic leadership.
"Now they have started circling the wagons and are trying to protect one another," he added.
Olson, who represents Sugar Land, tweeted that Trump's comments "are not reflective of the values of the 1,000,000+ people in Texas 22."
"We are proud to be the most diverse Congressional district in America," Olson wrote. "I urge our President immediately disavow his comments."
And Roy, a freshman Republican of Dripping Springs, jumped in as well.
"POTUS was wrong to say any American citizen, whether in Congress or not, has any ‘home’ besides the U.S," he wrote on Twitter. "But I just as strongly believe non-citizens who abuse our immigration laws should be sent home immediately, & Reps who refuse to defend America should be sent home 11/2020."
In an interview with the Tribune on Monday afternoon, however, Roy stopped short of calling the tweets racist.
"The entire day today I've been noticing everybody going around saying, 'Well it's this or that, the other. It is racist; it isn't racist. It's xenophobic; it isn't [xenophobic],'" he said. "I'm not going to get into characterizing it. I've said what I said very clearly."
On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Ron Wright, R-Arlington, said in a statement that he strongly disagrees with Trump's tweet.
"As a conservative Republican, I disagree with these four colleagues on a great many issues, but telling them to leave the country because I disagree with them is not a solution," Wright said. "It, in fact, invites more political acrimony."
U.S. Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Terrell, wrote that he interpreted the comments differently.
“Did @realDonaldTrump suggest America isn’t the home of my colleagues who have so far made a career out of playing the race card? I don’t think so,” he wrote. “Does he mean to condemn their disparaging comments about America and anti-Semitic quips? Yes, and so do I.”
In a tweet, Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Houston lumped the president's words in with progressive House members' use of the term "concentration camp" to describe border facilities, issuing a blanket disavowal of "out of control" rhetoric. During House votes Monday evening, he said, "Everything that has come out of those women's mouths has generally been wrong, deeply offensive. But that doesn't mean that we stoop to that level. That doesn't mean that we say things that are unacceptable as well."
After casting votes Monday evening, Republican U.S. Rep. Michael Cloud of Victoria claimed he had "not really seen" the tweets, despite them being the top news on Capitol Hill coming into the day.
"I've heard about them, but I haven't seen them," Cloud said.
Democrats, on the other hand, were particularly fierce in their responses.
"The racism and hatred cultivated and fueled by @realDonaldTrump only serves to further divide our country and puts the targets of his vile attacks in danger," tweeted U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso. "And this kind of attack is why xenophobic followers of his think the dehumanization of vulnerable immigrants is ok."
U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, wrote, "Americans elected by their fellow Americans to represent them are right where they belong: in Congress. Racism has no place in our country or in the President’s Twitter feed."
And in an interview with the Tribune on Monday evening, Veasey likened the president's tweets to racist insults he'd received growing up in Fort Worth.
"I think that this is the closest that he's come to actually calling someone an N-word," Veasey said. "He has literally walked so close to that line. And in my opinion, he's crossed all sorts of lines by saying, 'Go back.' But when it comes to that one, he's running up really close."
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, called the comments “racism, pure and simple” and said the congresswomen “are already home.”
"It is unpresidential. It is complete, piercing contrast to our values," said U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston.
She bemoaned that she was "already sick" of Trump's frequent attacks on the Obamas.
"That wasn't enough for him," she added. "So now he has to find individuals that are doing their best as members of the United States Congress."
And U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Houston, cited the tweets as he renewed his efforts for impeachment, stating that he would bring "to a vote on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives" charging the president with "bigotry in policy, harmful to society."
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, chose brevity.
"They’re Americans. You’re a bigot."
Trump, meanwhile, has expressed no regrets, saying that "many people agree with me." He suggested Monday that the four representatives hated the United States and were free to leave, according to The Washington Post.