Minnesota Republican candidates for Congress are sticking by Donald Trump despite other national party leaders trying to distance themselves from his verbal attacks on the grieving Muslim parents of a decorated American soldier killed in Iraq.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, issued a lengthy statement sharply criticizing Trump’s comments. The former prisoner of war said Trump did not have “unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said in a statement: “This is going to a place where we’ve never gone before, to push back against the families of the fallen. There used to be some things that were sacred in American politics — that you don’t do — like criticizing the parents of a fallen soldier even if they criticize you.”
President Obama on Tuesday called Trump “unfit” to be president and said that Republicans should withdraw their support of him.
In Minnesota, three Republicans running for Congress said they were standing by Trump as their party’s candidate.
Rep. Tom Emmer knows what it is like to have a controversial comment blow up a campaign. In 2010 when running for Minnesota governor, Emmer said he would like to see waiters’ incomes cut because some of them make more than $100,000 a year (very few of them do.) His comments, recorded by The UpTake, led to him being confronted by angry waiters and ultimately losing the election.
“I support the endorsed candidate, who is Donald Trump,” said Emmer while campaigning at Farmfest in Morgan, Minnesota. “I tell people that I meet all the time, ‘he might not have been your guy, he might not have been my guy, but he is our guy and he’s the guy’.”
Emmer’s support comes with some caveats. He thinks Trump needs to be a little more careful about what he’s saying.
“I understand that he feels as though he was attacked, but when you’re dealing with Gold Star parents — people who have made the ultimate sacrifice — I think you just…they get a free pass on all of that. You know what, that’s something he’ll have to learn.”
Jim Hagedorn, the Republican candidate for Minnesota’s first congressional district, has no such misgivings about what Trump is saying. When asked about Trump’s criticism of the military parents, Hagedorn immediately zeroed in on the fact that they were Muslim.
“Here’s the underlying issue, we have to secure our borders and we have to protect the American people from Muslim extremism, supremacists who want to come here. I have a refugee program time out that I’ve called for and I also don’t believe that at this point in time, given what’s going on in the world, it makes sense to bring people to America from countries that hate America. It’s time to step up and put our country first.”
“What we should do with refugees, is we should try to have ‘safe zones’ and make sure that they can be repatriated to their home country. But I would try to create safe zones near their home country rather than bring them into our culture and change our culture.”
Republican Amanda Lynn Hinson, who is running a long-shot campaign against Rep. Collin Peterson (D), was more tepid in her support for Trump — saying she “probably will” vote for Trump and was not going to vote for Clinton.
Democrats Not United Against Trump – Yet
Minnesota Democratic congressional candidates were surprisingly split on Trump. When asked about Trump, Peterson said he was “neutral” and was waiting for Trump to “clarify where he is on certain issues.”
However, Rep. Tim Walz (D) had already heard enough. He said Trump’s comments were “totally unacceptable. Those families deserve our respect and our gratitude.”
“We as Americans can do better,” said Walz. “People are going to judge you on how you conduct yourself and the respect that you show to one another.”
Video at top: Minnesota Republican Congressional candidates on Donald Trump
Video below: Minnesota Democratic Congressional candidates on Donald Trump