Republican congressional leadership on Thursday maintained its steadfast defense of President Trump's recentagainst four Democratic congresswomen of color, arguing that the conflict is strictly a matter of profound ideological differences.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, said chants of "send her back!" at the president's campaign rally in North Carolina on Wednesday have no "place" in the U.S. But he pushed back when asked by CBS News' Nancy Cordes if the chants were tied to recent controversial remarks by Mr. Trump.
"I didn't get a chance to see the rally, but I saw clip. The president didn't join in any chant like that," McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol, referring to the repeated chants from the crowd as Mr. Trump lambasted Omar, a Somali-American and one of two Muslim women in Congress.
Pressed on the similarity of the president's tweets on Sunday and his supporters' racist chants, McCarthy claimed that Mr. Trump's feud simply represented a political effort to fend off the socialist ideas espoused by the four progressive lawmakers – Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib.
"He talked about the love of this country. He said if you don't love this country, you can leave. That's a fundamental difference and that's what the president is talking about," McCarthy said. "This is an issue about ideology. This is an issue that when you talk about one of these individuals introduced a bill in support of boycott, divestiture and sanctions against Israel. I think this bill that she introduced, it even talks about the boycott when it came to Nazis in Germany."
"These (are) the differences that we have. This is what this debate and fight is about," he added.
Despite his scathing criticism of the congresswomen at his rally, Mr. Trump on Thursday tried to distance himself from the cheers of his supporters. "I was not happy when I heard that chant," Mr. Trump told reporters at the Oval Office.
The president on Sunday morning posted a series of tweets deriding "'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen," alluding to Omar, Pressley, Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib.
"So interesting to see 'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run," Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. "Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done."
The president claimed that the four Democratic congresswomen "originally came" from foreign countries but only Omar was born outside the U.S. Pressley, an African American, was born in Ohio. Ocasio-Cortez, of Puerto Rican heritage, was born in New York. Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, was born in Detroit. Omar, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was born in Somalia, a country she and her family fled from because of a civil war and ethnic strife.
The president's remarks have elicited withering condemnation from Democrats and some Republicans. On Tuesday, after a bitter partisan brawl, House lawmakers approved a resolution to formally denounce Mr. Trump's recent tirade against four progressive congresswomen of color, with four Republicans joining Democrats to rebuke the president.