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Wednesday, July 17, 2019 1:00 am

Braun, Banks stop short of rebuking Trump

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

None of the federal lawmakers who represent northeast Indiana has outright rebuked President Donald Trump for saying that four ethnic minority women in Congress should “go back” to “places from which they came.”

“The president is better than that. He knows better. ... I didn't like the content of it,” Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., told reporters Monday afternoon in Washington. Braun's office supplied audio of his remarks to The Journal Gazette.

Asked whether Trump's tweet was racist, Braun told reporters: “I don't think he's a racist. I think he's a guy that says what comes to his mind, and a lot of times we then have to spend time to talk about it.”

Braun was quoted by Politico as saying about Trump: “I don't think he's got a racist bone in his body. He's got an approach that might let the other side talk about it. That's what I don't like.”

Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, chastised the House Democratic majority for proposing to condemn Trump.

“Until House Dems remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee or address her anti-Semitic remarks in any way, it's hard to take any of their efforts to condemn the President, or anyone else, seriously,” Banks tweeted Monday.

Omar, D-Minn., had tweeted in February that supporters of Israel are “all about the Benjamins,” a reference to the image of Benjamin Franklin on the $100 bill. House Democratic leaders said at the time that Omar's comment was an anti-Semitic trope and “deeply offensive,” and they called for her to apologize, which she did.

Omar was among four freshman Democratic representatives Trump appeared to target in a Sunday tweet in which he wrote, “Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Omar is a U.S. citizen who was born in Somalia; the others in question – Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan – were born in the United States.

Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2nd, tweeted Monday: “As Americans, we can disagree on fundamental issues and condemn radical ideas without resorting to personal attacks on our fellow citizens. In order to find commonsense solutions to the challenges people face, both parties need to put aside divisive rhetoric and engage in a civil debate that reflects our nation's values.”

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., told the Washington Post: “I would say we oughta be focused on our policy solutions and the victories for the American people as opposed to people right now. The economy is doing really well, we've got all these federal judges on the bench that we should be proud of, people back home are really happy and that's really what we need to focus on.”

bfrancisco@jg.net