WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Tuesday he can name at least 20 Democrats who, in his opinion, are worse than the “squad” of four Democratic female lawmakers he’s been feuding with over their sharp critiques of his administration. He promised to name those Democrats “at some point.”
Trump brought up his purported list during a wide-ranging address at a conference for conservative teens during which he sharpened his criticism of Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
The Republican president has been engaged in a back and forth with the black, Latina and Muslim lawmakers since he sent racist tweets July 14 saying they should “go back” to the “broken” countries they came from. Three of the four were born in the U.S., while Omar is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia.
Trump is trying to turn the group into the face of the Democratic Party heading into the 2020 presidential election, using their views and policy positions to paint the party as extreme and its leaders as wrong for the future of the country.
“They have a big problem because they have others than these four,” Trump said of Democrats during the nearly 80-minute speech. “I could name another 20 right now. Without looking at a note I could name another 20 that I think are in many ways worse.”
“At some point, we will be naming them, if you don’t mind, because we have to get the word out,” Trump said.
Students, many of whom sported Trump’s signature red campaign caps, booed when he mentioned Tlaib by name.
Tlaib and her three colleagues are sharp critics of Trump and America’s direction under his leadership. Trump tweeted Sunday that “I don’t believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country.” He called on them to apologize for the “horrible (hateful) things they have said.”
The lawmakers have said they were sent to Washington to help make America live up to its promise. None offered an immediate response Tuesday to Trump’s latest jabs at them.
As a candidate, Trump himself was critical of the country’s direction under the leadership of Barack Obama. During the 2016 campaign, Trump criticized his predecessor’s leadership, called him “the most ignorant president in our history” and said “nobody respects us.”
During Tuesday’s speech, Trump said the self-described “squad” is “not what we want representing us.”
“These are people that I believe, honestly, I believe they hate our country,” he said.
The president’s remarks drew cheers and chants of “four more years” from the crowd of mostly high school students attending a teen summit sponsored by Turning Point USA, which describes itself as a youth organization dedicated to educating and training and students “to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.”
Trump told the students that young people are thriving under his economic stewardship, but also warned of bias against conservatives. He recounted several instances where conservative students were attacked or otherwise singled out because of their views.
“Forces of political correctness want to silence conservative students to make you feel alone, marginalized and isolated — and you are not,” he said.
Follow Kali Robinson and Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/KaliDRobinson and http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap