President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he believes he is winning the “political fight” over his racist tweets and comments about four minority female House freshman Democrats.
“If people want to leave our country, they can,” he said, repeating his days-old line about Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts. “I’ll never change on that.”
But he claimed he is not enjoying the political fisticuffs he started with two Sunday tweets, including one in which he said the female members should “go back” to countries from which he claimed they originated. (That tweet contained yet another false Trump statement because only Omar was born outside the United States, in Somalia. She is a naturalized United States citizen.)
“I’m not relishing the fight. … It’s not a matter of relishing,” he said as he departed the White House for a campaign rally in Pitt County, N.C., as he tries to secure the Tarheel State in the 2020 election and its 15 Electoral College votes that could be key to deciding if he will serve a second term.
“They’re wrong. They’re absolutely wrong. That’s not where our country wants to be. We’re not going to … be a socialist country. It’s not going to happen,” he said.
The members of the group earlier this week called Trump’s tweets a “distraction,” adding they are aiming to not take his “bait.”
Political operatives say the president and his campaign operation are eager to turn the so-called House “squad” into the face of the Democratic Party — at least until it nominates someone to run against him in the general election.
But with a nominee still a year away, Trump has decided to use the four minority House freshwomen — who are in the progressive wing of their caucus — to try conjuring fear about socialism taking root in the country if they amass more power in Washington.
Trump abruptly cut off questioning during yet another impromptu South Lawn press conference, pointing to the humid D.C. sky and telling reporters he had to go because it might rain.
Among the questions he ignored was one about whether he ever attend a social function with alleged child sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein and underage girls, but he blamed the possible rainstorm for dodging the question.
Epstein earlier this month was charged in federal court in Manhattan and previously served time in a Florida stockade on charges related to prostitution and sex acts with young girls. Outgoing Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta has faced a backlash over that sentence he approved as a U.S. attorney in 2007, and said that outrage had become too much of a distraction for him to continue in the Cabinet.
Acosta’s last day is Friday, but questions about the Epstein case and the billionaire financier’s past continue to dog the president.
Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone.