Republican Vt. governor criticizes Trump over ‘racist’ comments

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    Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott, speaking at a news conference in Montpelier, Vt., on Wednesday July 17, 2019, said he thought President Donald Trump's comments about four Democratic congresswomen of color were "offensive" and "racist." Scott said "words matter and we've seen this same rhetoric used throughout history to discriminate, degrade and divide." (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)

Associated Press
Published: 7/17/2019 10:09:53 PM
Modified: 7/17/2019 10:09:45 PM

MONTPELIER — Vermont’s Republican governor said Wednesday that he found President Donald Trump’s comments about four Democratic congresswomen of color racist and not befitting a world leader.

Gov. Phil Scott was referring to recent comments by the president that have drawn condemnation from the Democrat-led House of Representatives, including one in which he said the congresswomen should “go back” to the countries they came from.

“Like many across the country, I find these statements offensive, racist and certainly not what we expect from the leader of the greatest country in the world,” Scott said at the start of his regular news conference. “Words matter, and we’ve seen this same rhetoric used throughout history to discriminate, degrade and divide.”

He added that kids “need to know that racism and hate speech are unacceptable.”

The Vermont governor’s comments came a day after the House voted to condemn Trump’s “racist comments.” Four GOP House members voted in favor of the measure: moderate Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Will Hurd of Texas and Susan Brooks of Indiana, who is retiring. Also backing the measure was Michigan's independent Rep. Justin Amash, who left the GOP this month after becoming the party's sole member of Congress to back a Trump impeachment inquiry.

Trump, supported by most of his Republican congressional allies, insisted he doesn’t have “a racist bone in my body.”

All of the congresswomen are American citizens, and three were born in the U.S.

In neighboring New Hampshire, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu wouldn’t give his opinion on the topic. On Tuesday, Sununu told a local TV station he thinks the rhetoric coming out of Washington is “toxic and offensive” but declined to comment specifically about Trump.

Since Scott took office in early 2017, a Republican leading a state considered to be one of the most liberal in the country, he hasn’t been shy about breaking with his party and criticizing the president. And he has regularly called for civility in government and public discourse.

Last September, Scott was one of a handful of GOP governors who urged the U.S. Senate to delay a confirmation vote on then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to allow time for an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations. Kavanaugh vehemently denied the allegations. He was later confirmed.

Scott has opposed plans by the Trump administration to scale-back climate change emissions. He also worked against a now-resolved trade dispute with Canada and has criticized U.S. immigration policy.

On Wednesday, Scott also criticized Congress for spending so much time debating and passing a resolution criticizing the president when the members have ways of making their sentiments known.

“We are better than this. This just further divides us as a nation,” Scott said. “What we should be doing right now is pulling together to unite us.”

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