Federal legislators representing Cumberland County had very different responses on Monday to the weekend furor regarding Twitter posts by President Donald Trump.
Trump’s Sunday morning Twitter rant singled out “Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe” and suggested they “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
His inclusion of the jab that “Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!” indicated Trump was referring to a group of legislators who have recently been in the media for butting heads with Pelosi.
Those lawmakers include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. Three of them, contrary to Trump’s words, were born in the United States. Omar, originally from Somalia, became a naturalized citizen as a teenager.
Trump’s posts were widely condemned as inferring that, because the legislators are not white, they cannot truly be from the United States.
“’Go back to your own country’ is an ugly and deeply xenophobic sentiment rooted in the darkest periods of our history. The fact that it’s coming from our President is beyond the pale. Once again, his words make us less safe,” wrote Pennsylvania’s Democratic Sen. Bob Casey.
Casey’s Republican counterpart, Pat Toomey, said in a press statement that “President Trump was wrong to suggest that four left-wing congresswomen should go back to where they came from. Three of the four were born in America and the citizenship of all four is as valid as mine.”
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“I couldn’t disagree more with these congresswomen’s views on immigration, socialism, national security, and virtually every policy issue. But they are entitled to their opinions, however misguided they may be. We should defeat their ideas on the merits, not on the basis of their ancestry,” Toomey continued.
U.S. Rep. John Joyce, a Republican whose district includes western Cumberland County, also suggested that the GOP should confront opponents on policy instead of ethnic background.
“Rather than focus on where his colleagues are from, Congressman Joyce forms his opinions of his fellow House members based solely on the policies that they advocate for,” said Andrew Romeo, Joyce’s spokesman.
“Congressman Joyce will continue to stand against the dangerous policies being put forward by this group,” Romeo continued, in reference to the four congresswomen in question, “just like he did last week when he took to the House floor and helped defeat the Ocasio-Cortez amendment to restrict our military from helping secure the border.”
The office of GOP Rep. Scott Perry, whose district includes Carlisle and eastern Cumberland County, directed inquiries to a Facebook post in which Perry wrote, “I’m disappointed to find that many in the media are just awakening to the anti-American and anti-Semitic comments uttered consistently by some socialist leaders. I invite everyone to join me as we continue strengthening our country and communities.”
During an appearance July 12 on the internet talk show of Sebastian Gorka, a former Trump adviser, Perry cited Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and Tlaib by name as examples of how the nation is “one vote away from socialized insanity” if Trump is not re-elected.