Trump says Squad is 'destroying the Democrat Party'
Will the president's feud with four progressive Democratic congresswomen shape 2020 campaign? Insight from Wall Street Journal columnist Karl Rove, former senior adviser to President George W. Bush.
The criticism comes amid a two-fronted political battle that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley have been engaged in of late; one against Trump, and another against the Democratic establishment, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"I don’t believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country," Trump tweeted Sunday morning. "They should apologize to America (and Israel) for the horrible (hateful) things they have said. They are destroying the Democrat Party, but are weak & insecure people who can never destroy our great Nation!"
The Democratic infighting began well before Trump started taking on the "Squad." After Pelosi dismissively said that the women "have their public whatever and their Twitter world," but didn’t have any following" in Congress. Ocasio-Cortez accused Pelosi of singling out women of color, which drew backlash from both parties.
A senior Democratic aide told The Hill that Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is “only a woman of color when it’s convenient,” and that she was “a puppet” of “elitist white liberals,” referring to Justice Democrats, the PAC that supports her. One senior Democratic source described Ocasio-Cortez as a "complete fraud" in an interview with Fox News.
Race-based jabs were also exchanged between Pressley, D-Mass., and the Congressional Black Caucus. CBC member Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., had claimed Justice Democrats, which backs AOC, was “targeting members of the Congressional Black Caucus” in primary races.
Pressley then told those in attendance at the Netroots Nation conference, “We don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice.”
Trump eventually began addressing the four women on social media and in public remarks, but he too sparked some opposition from his own party after some believed one tweet went too far.
The president had tweeted that the "Democrat Congresswomen" should go back and fix the "corrupt" and "crime infested places" they came from and then "come back and show us how it's done" -- even though three of the four women were born in the United States. Telling minorities to "go back" to the countries they came from drew strong condemnation and accusations of racism.
"There is no excuse for the president’s spiteful comments – they were absolutely unacceptable and this needs to stop," Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, tweeted.
Trump has continued to accuse the "Squad" of hating America and has said they can "leave" if they want.
"They can leave, they can stay, but they should love our country and they should work for the good of our country," Trump said Tuesday.
This ultimately led to a controversial "send her back" chant directed at Omar, D-Minn., during a Trump rally in North Carolina. The president later disavowed the chant, but Ocasio-Cortez claimed Saturday that Trump supported it when it happened.
"He kind of presided over the situation, he relished it, he took it in," she said at a town hall on immigration in her New York City district. When a reporter asked her whether she believed Trump had led the crowd on, Ocasio-Cortez replied: "He absolutely did."
The president's general message about The Squad continues to be based on claims that they are against the U.S. and Israel. Omar has been criticized by both parties for statements she made that included anti-Semitic tropes. She said that American support for Israel was "all about the Benjamins," implying that Washington officials only support the Jewish state because they are getting paid for it. She also said that Israel has "hypnotized the world" to be blind to their "evil doings."
Democrats failed to call her out for it in a resolution that was originally meant as a response, but ended up being a general condemnation of hate in general, without any reference to Omar. House Democrats did pass a resolution condemning Trump for his remarks toward Omar and the other congresswomen.
Trump's claim that "The Squad" is hurting its own party has some support. Axios reported that top Democrats have been pointing to a poll that shows swing voters who oppose socialism are now viewing Ocasio-Cortez as the face of the party. The poll reportedly shows Ocasio-Cortez with a mere 22 percent favorable rating.
"If all voters hear about is AOC, it could put the [House] majority at risk," a top Democrat involved in 2020 congressional races told the outlet. "[S]he's getting all the news and defining everyone else’s races.”
Meanwhile, Trump has accused Democrats of failing to maintain control and letting the left-wing freshman congresswomen dictate the direction of their party.
"If the Democrats want to embrace people that hate our country, people that are so far-left that nobody’s ever seen anything like it, if they want to embrace people that are so anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, if they want to do that, that’s up to them,” the president told reporters Friday on the White House lawn. “But I don’t have to do that.”
Fox News' Sam Dorman and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.