WASHINGTON – Republican Sen. Cory Gardner on Tuesday dodged The Colorado Indy’s questions about President Trump’s derogatory tweets about four Democratic congresswoman of color, while Rep. Scott Tipton said he didn’t believe the tweets were were racist.
Two other Republicans in Colorado’s congressional delegation, Reps. Ken Buck (4th District) and Doug Lamborn (5th District), did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
Asked several times whether the tweets were racist, Gardner told the Indy that he had another interview scheduled and ducked into an office on Capitol Hill.
“I’m sorry, I’ve got to go right now,” he said.
The freshman Republican – one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the U.S. Senate – also declined to comment on Trump’s tweets in a Monday radio interview with conservative host Steffan Tubbs.
When asked if he had seen the president’s tweet, Gardner answered another question instead: “We have been working on the BLM move and that’s basically everything we’ve been trying to get done,” he said, referring to news that the Bureau of Land Management is moving west of the Rockies to Grand Junction.
Gardner’s pivot was so abrupt it got an on-air laugh. “Short and succinct,” Tubbs said. “I translate that into, ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’”
However, on Tuesday, Gardner did address the matter on Denver’s KOA NewsRadio. “I disagree with the president,” Gardner said in an interview. “I wouldn’t have sent those tweets. I think he shouldn’t have done it …I think we have to focus on things like bringing this country together and moving this country forward.”
On Sunday, Trump tweeted that four Democratic congresswomen – Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts – should “go back” to “the crime infested places from which they came.”
All four are U.S. citizens, and three were born in the United States.
The president doubled down on his inflammatory tweets on Monday, saying at the White House that the four Democratic freshmen are “free to leave” the country and accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of being a racist.
On Tuesday, he defended his tweets and urged GOP lawmakers not to support a resolution condemning his comments, but the measure passed 240-to-187.
The vote was overseen by Rep. Diana DeGette as speaker pro tem, who tweeted: “The House just voted to condemn the president’s racist comments. As one of 24 representatives born outside this country, I was honored to preside over this important vote. Such hateful remarks have no place in our society. Republicans’ refusal to speak up is shameful.”
All but four House Republicans voted against the condemnation.
Tipton, who represents Colorado’s 3rd District, told The Indy he didn’t think Trump’s remarks were racist.
“You’ve got the four folks accusing [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi of racism,” he said, referring to past comments made by Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib and Pressley. “Now they’ve included the president in on that. I don’t think either of them were racist.”
The four Democratic congresswomen targeted by Trump held a press conference Monday to denounce the president’s comments. Tlaib called his language “a continuation of his racist, xenophobic playbook.”
Pelosi called Trump’s language “disgraceful” and pledged “continue to forcefully respond to these disgusting attacks” in a letter to her colleagues. The House is slated to vote on a resolution to condemn the president’s language on Tuesday night. It’s expected to pass largely along partisan lines.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday defended Trump, saying that he is “not a racist,” the Associated Press reported. McConnell added that political rhetoric has gotten “way, way overheated across the political spectrum.”
Colorado Democrats, meanwhile, have roundly condemned the comments.
Sen. Michael Bennet – a candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination – quoted African American poet Langston Hughes in response to the president’s tweets. “Sure, call me any ugly name you choose — the steel of freedom does not stain.”
Rep. Jason Crow (6th District) tweeted: “President Trump’s racist comments have no place in our national dialogue. We need leaders who will show decency, respect, & common purpose. To intentionally misrepresent & vilify members of Congress is not only a leadership failure, it’s morally reprehensible.”
Asked about his GOP colleagues’ views that Trump’s comments aren’t racist, Ed Perlmutter (7th District) told the Independent, “They are.”
And Rep. Joe Neguse (2nd District) – the son of refugees from Africa and the first African American to represent Colorado in Congress – called the tweets “bigoted.”
The Newsroom’s Washington bureau chief Robin Bravender contributed to this report.