La. gubernatorial challengers defend Trump’s jab at congresswomen

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President Donald Trump won Louisiana in 2016, and now two Republicans looking to win the state in 2019 are defending their commander-in-chief’s remarks against four Democratic congresswomen of color.

Gubernatorial candidates Rep. Ralph Abraham and Eddie Rispone rejected claims that the president’s tweets Sunday — suggesting that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley “go back and help fix the broken and crime infested places they came from” — were racist.

“There’s no question that the members of Congress that [President Trump] called out have absolutely said anti-American and anti-Semitic things,” Abraham tweeted Monday. “I’ll pay for their tickets out of this country, if they just tell me where they’d rather be.”

“I stand with President Trump,” Rispone said in a statement Monday. “If these America hating crazies in Washington don’t like it, they should crawl back under the rock they came from.”

Despite Trump’s claim that the four congresswomen “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe,” only one is not American-born. Omar, a Somali refugee, moved to the U.S. in 1991.

Democratic incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards’ re-election team declined comment on the president’s tweet.

Other Louisiana political leaders have weighed in on Trump’s remarks:

“It’s rich that people who make anti-Semitic comments are accusing the president of being racist,” Sen. Bill Cassidy said Tuesday. “That said, I disagree with the president’s comment.”

“I think I know what the president meant,” Sen. John Kennedy told reporters Tuesday. “If you’re not happy in America, just leave. I agree with that, but his original articulation fell short of the mark.”

Neither senator outright called Trump’s tweets racist, prompting further backlash from prominent Louisiana Democrats.

Rep. Cedric Richmond, the state’s lone Democrat on Capitol Hill, retweeted a statement from the Congressional Black Caucus voicing support for the congresswomen.

“These American citizens are exactly where they belong — here in the United States fighting to hold this corrupt, inhumane and inept administration accountable on behalf of the majority of the people who did not vote for this President and do not support his disastrous policies,” the caucus’ tweet read.

The chairwoman of the Louisiana Democratic Party has also condemned Trump’s remarks. A statement Tuesday from state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson similarly denounced the state’s congressional Republicans for their response to the tweets.

“The President’s statement only serves to cultivate hatred, and we refuse to sit idly by as it plagues our country and state,” Peterson said. “While we are committed to ending racism and bigotry in America, Louisiana’s Republicans in Congress can hardly say the same. Their support for these racists remarks is shameful.”

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