Standing side by side, the four Democratic congresswomen of color who were targeted in aby President Trump that elicited widespread condemnation mounted a vigorous defense of their progressive agendas and tried to downplay the commander-in-chief’s controversial comments, which they said were just the latest episode of a pattern of bigoted and divisive rhetoric.
In a news conference at the Capitol on Monday afternoon, Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts said the president’s remarks were part of an effort to pit Americans against each other.
“He would love nothing more than to divide our country based on race, religion, gender, orientation or immigration status, because this is the only way he knows he can prevent the solidarity of us working together,” Omar said.
Omar noted that Mr. Trump has made divisive, sexist and racist statements both as president and during his campaign. She said it was “complete hypocrisy” for the president to say critics of his policies should leave the country.
“When people say, ‘If you say a negative thing about the policies in this country, you hate this country,’ to me it sort of speaks to the hypocrisy,” Omar said. “When this president ran and until today, he talked about everything that was wrong in this country and how he was going to make it great. And so for him to condemn us and to say we are un-American for wanting to work hard to make this country be the country we all deserve to live in, it’s complete hypocrisy.”
Her colleague Pressley struck a similar tone, saying that the group of four lawmakers represents hundreds of thousands of constituents, as well as marginalized Americans across the country.
“Despite [the president’s] attempts to marginalize us and to silence us, please know that we are more than four people. We ran on a mandate to advocate for and represent those ignored, left out and left behind. Our squad is big,” Pressley said, referring to the moniker some use to describe the four lawmakers.
To reassure children of color who could feel demonized by the president’s remarks, Ocasio-Cortez, the daughter of Puerto Rican parents, recounted a childhood memory when father took her to the reflecting pool near the Lincoln Memorial, pointed towards the other National Mall monuments and told her the country belonged to everyone — including her.
“No matter what the president says, this country belongs to you,” she said, referring to children in the U.S.
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