After President Donald Trump painted "both sides" as violent aggressors in a deadly white-nationalist attack in Virginia, several Arkansas Republicans said Wednesday that they expected better from the nation's chief executive.
The state's Democratic Party demanded an apology from Trump and called on GOP officials to do the same.
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack was appalled by what he saw in Charlottesville.
"There is no place for this kind of hate in our country. We need to come together as Americans. #Charlottesville," he tweeted on Saturday.
Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin released a written statement Wednesday calling racism and white supremacy "abhorrent and antithetical to the values that make our country great."
"It is incumbent upon leaders, in particular, to stand unequivocally and consistently against such hatred and division," he added.
The Republican Party of Arkansas, in a statement decrying racial bias, didn't mention the president. But two congressmen, the governor and the state Senate leader each took a critical tone.
"The president missed a window of opportunity to reject categorically the white supremacy groups that marched in Charlottesville and to name singularly their blame in the death and violence," said U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, a Republican from Jonesboro. "Had the White House handled the aftermath more bluntly and forthrightly, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation right now."
U.S. Rep. French Hill, who has called white supremacist ideology "repugnant and un-American," said Trump "didn't do an effective job" at Tuesday's news conference in New York.
"He would've helped the country and helped our communities deal with this by standing by his earlier statement and calling for communities to come together and work out differences and reject ... the hate that we saw on display in Charlottesville," the Republican from Little Rock said.
Hill noted that his father-in-law had helped to liberate Jews from the Buchenwald concentration camp at the end of World War II.
"He bore witness to Nazi terror -- a terror that started with an ideology of hate and superiority based upon race and creed," Hill wrote on social media Sunday.
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Photos by The Associated Press
Photos by The Associated Press
Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Senate President Pro Tempore Jonathan Dismang of Searcy, both Republicans, spoke in forceful terms condemning the white nationalism on display at Charlottesville, and they said Trump's remarks fell short.
"I am grateful that he clearly denounced white supremacy in very clear terms," Hutchinson said in a statement. "But this is a moment that we need our leaders to take every opportunity to educate this generation about the pure evil of nazism and to bring our country together."
Dismang, who spoke with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette by phone, said he still supported the president's policies, but was "disappointed" by what Trump said Tuesday.
"I do not think that's becoming of the presidency," Dismang said.
Other Republicans who spoke Wednesday singled out white nationalists with harsh words, but did not mention Trump's comments that there are "two sides to a story."
U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman, of Hot Springs, didn't discuss Trump's message, but he forcefully denounced the views that were on display in Charlottesville.
"Neo-Nazism and white supremacy are reprehensible belief systems that are steeped in hate and adorned with evil actions throughout history. The actions of people who ascribe to these belief systems are contrary to everything I've learned in my Christian faith and are an affront to basic morality and the underpinnings of America," he said.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, the new chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, released a statement Wednesday saying the group's values are "entirely at odds with the views of the the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who spewed their hatred in Charlottesville this past weekend."
Her statement did not mention Trump, and she declined an interview through a spokesman. State Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb was also unavailable for an interview.
U.S. Sen. John Boozman, who underwent heart surgery Tuesday, was unavailable for comment. So was U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, who was traveling back to the United States after meeting with U.S. allies in Montenegro and Albania.
On social media, Boozman had previously said, "Bigotry has no place in our society." Cotton on Sunday called the white supremacists "contemptible little men" who "do not speak for what is just, noble, and best about America. They ought to face what they would deny their fellow citizens: the full extent of the law."
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, a Republican from Rogers, hadn't watched Trump's news conference, spokesman Heather Neilson said.
A Section on 08/17/2017
Print Headline: Trump missed mark, some in state say