U.S. Sen. Steve Daines says Trump rally attendees went too far Wednesday chanting “Send her back!” at the president’s mention of Somali-born U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat.
“The senator does not agree with the chant and thinks it’s wrong,” said Julia Doyle, a Daines spokesperson.
The Montana Republican’s response to the chant aligned with remarks made earlier in the day by President Donald Trump. However, the Greenville, North Carolina, crowd essentially repeated what Trump tweeted July 13, when he incorrectly identified three dark-skinned U.S.-born female Democratic lawmakers as foreigners and advised they and Omar leave the country rather then tell Americans how the country should be run.
The Trump tweet was met with accusations of racism and concern the U.S. president was disregarding the First Amendment right to speak freely in government protest.
So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019
....and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019
....it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019
“Go back to your country” is a xenophobic slur directed at foreigners, particularly non-Caucasian foreigners. It is part of Montana’s hate speech landscape and usually directed toward foreign language speakers or non-whites, said Rachel Carroll Rivas, Montana Human Rights Network co-director.
“The times that people report to us usually stem from random public interaction when they’re maybe in the grocery store, or at a fair, or the rodeo,” particularly if those targeted are speaking a foreign language, Carroll Rivas said. “It’s not uncommon. It’s also not what we expect from our elected officials and those in the public light who we hold to higher standard.”
Uttered by elected leaders, the slurs become normalized, Carroll Rivas said. Daines’ support of such a remark was unexpected.
Monday, supporting Trump, Daines tweeted, “Montanans are sick and tired of listening to anti-American, anti-Semite, radical Democrats trash our country and our ideals. This is America. We’re the greatest country in the world.”
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By Wednesday night there were tweets encouraging Daines' supporters to back him up by donating to his campaign. One of Daines’ would-be challengers in the 2020 U.S. Senate race is Liberian-born Wilmot Collins, the first black mayor of Helena and one of two Democrats in the race. John Mues is the other. Collins is also, in the parlance of politics, telling voters how he thinks the U.S. government is to be run. Collins is also fundraising off of Trump and Daines.
A Morning Consult poll issued Thursday had Daines polling at 50% in Montana, with 29% of those polled opposed and 22% undecided. The margin of error was plus or minus 5%. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., had a 47% approval rating, with 40% disapproving and the remaining 13% undecided.
Daines far outpaces would-be challengers in campaign funds, with more than $4 million raised in the election cycle through June. Collins has raised $91,000. Mues won't file his first finance report until October.
As I said this morning, right now, Montanans only have one senator in Washington who is looking out for our interests. I’m counting on your support to replace Senator Daines and spreading the word to your friends and family is an important first step. https://t.co/PhbDfd4HqS— Wilmot Collins (@CollinsWilmot) July 18, 2019
“Right now, I’m calling on Sen. Daines to apologize for just wholeheartedly agreeing to what the president said. I think that is way below the pale,” Collins said during a Thursday appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “That’s not what the people of Montana are looking for. They’re looking for a senator who will represent them and have an independent mind.”
After tweeting his defense of Trump Monday, Daines on Wednesday was on “Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream” framing Trump's Twitter fight as exemplifying the battle between freedom and socialism in the 2020 election. By that time, Omar and the other minority women lawmakers — Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York; Ayanna Pressley, of Massachusetts; and Rashida Tlaib, of Michigan — had responded to Trump’s remarks.
“It paints a clear contrast between what this election is all about in 2020. This is going to be about those who believe in freedom, the love of this country, law and order. Or, socialism. That is what this election is going to be about,” Daines told Bream. “And what’s happening now with the AOC plus 3, the squad, whatever you want to call these radicals in Congress, it paints a very clear picture. Anybody who says it really doesn’t matter who goes back to Washington, D.C., we’re all the same back there. Just watch what’s going on right now in Congress. You’ve got radical, leftist anti-Americans in the United States House."
Doyle, Daines' spokesperson, said for Daines the debate has, “never been about where someone is from or someone’s race, religion or gender.”