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How Republicans Are Responding to Trump’s Tweets Against Democratic Congresswomen

Several members of the Republican party have spoken out after President Donald Trump targeted four Democratic congresswomen of color on Twitter. Here's what they had to say:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

McConnell says President Donald Trump is "not a racist" after Trump tweeted over the weekend that four congresswomen of color should return to their native countries. All of the congresswomen are American citizens.

McConnell said at a news conference Tuesday that political rhetoric has gotten "way, way overheated across the political spectrum." He pointed to Democratic comments, saying "we've seen the far left throw accusations of racism at everyone."

He also took a mild swipe at Trump, saying everyone "from the president to the speaker to the freshmen members of the House" should take a lesson from the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who said he attacked ideas, not people.

Pressed by reporters as to whether he thought the president is a racist, McConnell said: "the president is not a racist."

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado

Gardner was asked by Denver-area KOA NewsRadio early Tuesday about Trump's tweets and replied: "I disagree with the president. I wouldn't have sent these tweets."

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina

Graham, a close ally of the president who golfed with him over the weekend, advised him to "aim higher" during an appearance on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends," even as he accused the four Democrats of being "anti-Semitic" and "anti-American."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

"No. This is about ideology," McCarthy said during a briefing with reporters. "This is about socialism versus freedom."

Marc Short, chief of staff to Mike Pence

Short said, "I don't think that the president's intent in any way is racist," pointing to Trump's decision to choose Elaine Chao, who was born in Taiwan, as his transportation secretary. Chao is one of the few minorities among the largely white and male aides in high-profile roles in Trump's administration. She is the wife of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who declined comment Monday on Trump's attacks.

Rep. Pete Olson of Texas

Olson said Trump's tweets were "not reflective of the values of the 1,000,000+ people" in his district. "I urge our President immediately disavow his comments," he wrote.

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah

The GOP White House nominee in 2012, and now one of the president's most vocal GOP critics, said Trump's comments were "destructive, demeaning, and disunifying."

Maine Sen. Susan Collins

Collins, who is up for re-election next year, said Trump's tweet was "way over the line and he should take that down."

Sen. Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania

Toomey said of the Democrats, "We should defeat their ideas on the merits, not on the basis of their ancestry."

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina

Scott said Trump had "interjected with unacceptable personal attacks and racially offensive language" 

Michigan Congressman Fred Upton

"Frankly I’m appalled by the President's tweets. There’s no excuse. Inflammatory rhetoric from both sides of the aisle that is used to divide us just isn’t right. It’s not helpful. We have too many challenges facing us that we ought to be working on together – immigration, the debt ceiling, the border crisis. The President’s tweets were flat out wrong and uncalled for, and I would encourage my colleagues from both parties to stop talking so much and start governing more."

In an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll from February 2017, half of Americans said the mixing of culture and values from around the world is an important part of America's identity as a nation. About a third said the same of a culture established by early European immigrants.

But partisans in that poll were divided over these aspects of America's identity. About two-thirds of Democrats but only about a third of Republicans thought the mixing of world cultures was important to the country's identity. By comparison, nearly half of Republicans but just about a quarter of Democrats saw the culture of early European immigrants as important to the nation.