Whenever President Donald Trump says or does something that makes the GOP look bad — a frequent occurrence — fellow Republicans hope that the controversy will quickly blow over. The latest example is Trump’s racist attack on The Squad, an alliance of progressive congresswomen of color including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City, Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
Trump was obviously referring to The Squad when, over the weekend, he used Twitter to tell them go back to the countries they came from — and this, Axios’ Mike Allen explains in a report, is exactly the type of thing that can make life difficult for Republicans.
Asking members of The Squad to return to their own countries is not only racist — it also overlooks the fact Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, Omar and Tlaib are all U.S. citizens, and that the Somali-born Omar is the only one of the four who was born outside the United States.
Allen reports that “conservatives who reluctantly support President Trump often try to pretend the daily outrage didn’t happen, but yesterday’s ‘go back’ tweets were like his ‘both sides’ comment on Charlottesville — a transgression that won’t instantly fade, and can’t be laughed off.”
A Trump ally, interviewed on condition of anonymity, told Axios, “Republicans with a conscience are cringing. He believes the more he puts ‘The Squad’ front and center, the better his re-election chances get.”
That Trump ally also told Axios that even when they’re privately cringing over something he said, many Republicans would rather keep quiet than have a confrontation with the president and risk alienating his base.
“If anything,” that ally told Axios, “history has said that this stuff does go away, and that it’s not worth the potentially catastrophic political cost of weighing in against him.”
An influential Democrat, also interviewed on condition of anonymity, told Axios that Trump doesn’t worry about crossing the line because for him, there is no such line.
“His view is that he simply cannot go too far,” that Democrat told Axios. “The line doesn’t exist…. I’m very worried.”