Sen. Joni Ernst Jumps into the Fray, Says Trump’s Remarks Were Racist

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) attends a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on February 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony on the U.S. Cyber Command defense authorization request for FY2020. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) jumped into the political fray Monday evening, weighing in on President Trump’s remarks to the Squad and confirming her belief that they were racist in nature.

When asked if she believed the president’s remarks – encouraging freshman Democrats who routinely criticize the U.S. to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” – were racist, she responded, “Yeah, I do.”

According to the Hill:

Asked if she thought Trump’s comments were specifically racist, Ernst acknowledged, “Yeah, I do.”

She reiterated that view when asked on another occasion by a CNN reporter if she found Trump’s comments racist.

“Uh, yeah. They’re American citizens,” she said, referring to Trump’s suggestion that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), who all identify as racial minorities, go back to the counties they’re from.

Ernst, who faces reelection next year, said the GOP should “focus on policies.”

“We can debate those policies because I personally think the GOP has a stronger platform to talk about,” she said. “That’s what we should be focusing on.”

Ernst is one of the latest Republican lawmakers to condemn Trump’s remarks. Many GOP lawmakers – including Sens. Tim Scott (R-SC), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Pat Toomey (R-PA) – released statements Monday, condemning Trump’s tweets.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), one of Trump’s main political adversaries on the right, came out with a particularly strong statement against the president.

He wrote:

The president’s comments were destructive, demeaning, and disunifying. The President of the United States has a unique and noble calling to unite the American people – of all different races, colors, and national origins. In that respect, the president failed badly. People can disagree over politics and policy, but telling American citizens to go back to where they came from is over the line.

Trump has refused to back down from his remarks, making the case to the American people that Squad members are radical socialists who do not want the best for the U.S.

He tweeted:

Squad members – Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) – held a press conference Monday afternoon and used it to hit numerous leftist talking points – Trump’s purported racism, kids in cages, impeachment, etc.

Trump responded with two tweets, noting that the Obama administration “built the cages” and ending with a resounding call to “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” in all caps:

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