AUGUSTA — All four of Maine’s delegates to Congress rebuked President Trump on Monday for tweets he made about four first-term congresswomen over the weekend that have been denounced as racist and xenophobic.

Trump tweeted Sunday that four minority Democrats – Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts – should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.”

The statement prompted Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to come to the lawmakers’ defense. Omar is the only one of the four who was born outside the United States.

Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, chastised Trump in an interview on MSNBC for inflaming anti-immigrant and racial tensions, saying previous presidents worked to tamp those tensions down.

When asked what he made of the impact of the president’s statements on the “everyday dialogue” in Maine and the U.S. around immigration, King said “it inflames our worst instincts.”

“But to say go back to your country, everyone in America is from somewhere else except the native Americans,” King said. “Come on.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, was the first to respond to Trump with a midday tweet Sunday, saying she was proud to serve with the four lawmakers the president attacked.

Clockwise from top left: Sen. Angus King, Sen. Susan Collins, Rep. Jared Golden and Rep. Chellie Pingree

“They are courageous Americans who are working on behalf of their districts to solve our nation’s problems,” Pingree tweeted. “More than we can say for our current president whose daily mission seems to be to divide us.”

In the House, Pelosi said Monday that lawmakers would be voting on a resolution condemning  Trump’s tweets. “The House cannot allow the president’s characterization of immigrants to our country to stand,” she wrote in a letter to House members.

Pingree said in an email Monday that she would be voting in favor of the resolution to condemn Trump for his “racist attacks on four sitting members of Congress.”

She also mentioned a recent effort to help asylum seekers in Portland that raised more than $800,000 and said she was carrying “Maine’s values of inclusiveness” with her as she traveled back to Washington.

“The president seems intent to divide us, but we cannot let him,” Pingree said. “It’s up to each of us to uphold America’s ideals if he won’t.”

Collins issued a statement early Monday afternoon.

“I disagree strongly with many of the views and comments of some of the far-left members of the House Democratic Caucus – especially when it comes to their views on socialism, their anti-Semitic rhetoric, and their negative comments about law enforcement – but the president’s tweet that some members of Congress should go back to the ‘places from which they came’ was way over the line, and he should take that down,” Collins said.

Her office did not respond to follow-up questions about whether she believed Trump’s comment was racist.

In additional tweets and statements Monday during a Rose Garden news conference, the president continued his barrage against the lawmakers, calling them “anti-American,” “anti-Semitic” and “Communists,” among other names.

Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from Lewiston, another Maine city with a sizable population of African immigrants, urged people and the media to not take Trump’s bait.

“All Americans should recognize that President Trump’s race-baiting attacks are wrong,” Maine’s 2nd-District congressman said in a prepared statement. “I don’t agree with some of the positions or statements of some of my colleagues, but policy disagreements should be OK in our democracy, which is why I stand with my House colleagues against the president’s rhetoric.”

Golden said Trump was looking to divide and distract.

“We shouldn’t take the bait and give the president what he wants,” Golden said. “Instead, we should stay focused on solutions that will improve Americans’ lives and push back against the Trump administration’s harmful policies.”

Golden made no mention of immigration issues, but detailed concerns around Trump’s trade policy, his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and his administration’s “inaction to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable.”

Golden’s office said the congressman is inclined to support the resolution condemning Trump’s statements, but he wants to see the language of the resolution before committing to vote for it.

 

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