Republican Senate candidate Kris Kobach left CNN anchor Chris Cuomogobsmacked Tuesday night when he had to seriously think about whether he’d continue to support Donald Trump for president if he openly admitted to being a racist, saying he’d have to weigh who Trump was running against.
Appearing on CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time to discuss the House of Representatives vote to condemn Trump for the racist comments he made about four Democratic congresswomen of color, Kobach refused to agree with Cuomo that Trump purposely picked a “race battle” with the so-called “Squad.”“He didn’t pick a race battle,” the former Kansas secretary of state said. “He picked a battle and the left and you choose to characterize it as a race battle.”
Noting that Kobach and other Trump allies are only able to defend the president because he has given them “cover” and insisted he’s “not a racist,” the CNN anchor upped the ante.
“What would you do if the president said, ‘I am a racist, that’s why I said it,’” Cuomo asked. “What would you do?”
“Then I would not defend him because there’s no excuse for racism in America,” Kobach replied.
Cuomo then asked if Kobach would still support Trump as president, prompting the former Kansas gubernatorial candidate to go silent for a beat before hemming and hawing.
“You’d have to think about it?!’ Cuomo exclaimed. “You have to think about whether or not you’d support a racist?! Really?”“I’d have to know who was running against him,” the Kansas Senate hopeful said, prompting the CNN host to throw up his arms in disbelief.
“A racist?!?!” Cuomo shouted.
“If he said he was a racist then probably not, of course,” Kobach said. Cuomo, however, was still flabbergasted.
“An admitted racist, you would have to know more? Kris, come on, man, it can’t be that partisan!” Cuomo said.
Trump did not mention the lawmakers he was criticizing by name, but his comments were widely interpreted as targeting the four freshmen lawmakers who make up “The Squad” — Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. The four legislators are U.S. citizens and only Omar, who arrived in the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia, was born abroad.
“When the president said . . . that these members of Congress should go back to the crime-infested places from which they came, right?” Kobach told CNN. “Well, where are those places? Well, in AOC's case it's the Bronx; in Tlaib's case, it's Detroit; and in Omar's case, it's originally Somalia. Those are all crime-infested places and in Somalia's instance, there's terrorism, too. So it's a fact. To simply state that fact is not racist.”
“I let you get the argument out but, I'm just saying, it fails on its face,” Cuomo interjected, noting that Trump did not say “places,” but rather “countries,” implying that three of the four lawmakers were not born in America.
Cuomo went on to say that Trump took aim at those lawmakers “because they are brown,” which prompted Kobach to argue that critics were misinterpreting the president's tweets because of the challenges posed by Twitter's character limit.
“That's the problem with Twitter. You're reading into it,” Kobach said.
But Trump continued to take aim at the lawmakers on and offline in recent days.
He tweeted Tuesday that the four congresswomen “have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate” and stated his belief that Congress should take action on the “filthy language, statements and lies” allegedly shared by the lawmakers.
He also accused the four congresswomen of being “anti-America” and said that the lawmakers could leave if they were unhappy with the state of things.
“If you hate our country — if you're not happy here, you can leave,” the president said Monday outside the White House. “You can leave. You can leave right now. Come back if you want. Don't come back — that's OK, too. But if you're not happy, you can leave.”
He also mentioned Omar by name, falsely claiming the congresswoman praised the terrorist organization al Qaeda while further accusing her of “hating Jews.” Trump also brought up comments Omar made earlier this year about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which prompted immediate outrage from conservatives and spurred an increase in death threats against the congresswoman.
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