It’s been a couple of days since attendees at one of President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign rallies chanted “Send her back! Send her back!” about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a Somali-American first-term congresswoman who came to America as a refugee. Since then, Republicans have gone to great lengths to distract from the racism behind the chants. Vice President Mike Pence has taken another tactic: Address the chants head on.
In an interview with CBS News podcast “The Takeout,” Pence said the president “wasn’t pleased” with the chanting. (In video of the rally in North Carolina, Trump actually waits for the crowd to finish chanting before finishing his own tirade against Omar.) CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett asked perhaps the most benign question about the racist chant: “If you’re unhappy with them, do you want to see them repeated? Is this part and parcel of the 2020 echo of the Trump campaign?”
Pence then tried to pivot the conversation toward “four members of Congress” a.k.a. “The Squad” a.k.a. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and, of course, Omar. (Later in the interview, which partially aired on Face The Nation on Sunday, Pence said the congresswomen were engaging in “reckless rhetoric.”)
Let’s go to the transcript, via CBS News:
MIKE PENCE: Well, no, Major. The President wasn’t pleased about it. Neither was I. And the President’s been very clear about that. But we’re also not pleased about is the fact that there are four members of Congress who are engaging in the most outrageous statements.
MAJOR GARRETT: Yes, but you know that this President’s relationship with his supporters is as close as—
MIKE PENCE: And—
MAJOR GARRETT: —anyone has ever had in American politics. This could all go away with one simple word or a phrase or something. You have a chance to say it right now.
MIKE PENCE: Well—
MAJOR GARRETT: Don’t do it again—
MIKE PENCE: Major—
MAJOR GARRETT: —is that your message?
MIKE PENCE: Major, the President was very clear.
MAJOR GARRETT: Was he?
Then, Pence replied: “If it happened again he— he might— he might— he’d make an effort to speak out about it.”
Well, at least Trump “might ... make an effort to speak out” about racist language against a congressperson at one of his own campaign rallies. I’m sure this — if it were to happen — will be well received at future campaign rallies throughout America.