Republicans have remained supportive of President Donald Trump, their party leader, throughout his many trials and tribulations during his first seven months in office. Be it his attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, the immigration ban or tough stance toward North Korea, to name just a few.
And a new CBS poll released Thursday morning showed a large majority of GOP members even back the president’s response to and handling of the Charlottesville, Virginia, protest, which resulted in the death of one woman and reignited racial tensions throughout the country.
The poll showed 67 percent of Republicans approved of Trump’s response, compared with 82 percent of Democrats disapproving and 55 percent of respondents overall claiming disapproval. Thirty-four percent overall approved, but 53 percent of those who identified as independent disapproved.
Going further, 68 percent of Republicans believed Trump’s blame of “many sides” being responsible for the violence that engulfed the college town over the planned teardown of a statue honoring Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Fifty-five percent overall claimed Trump was inaccurate.
And more than half of Republicans polled, 56 percent, thought Trump was having no effect on race relations around the country, while 70 percent of Democrats said Trump’s actions were creating more division. Overall, Americans were somewhat split with 44 percent saying Trump was causing division and 39 percent in the no-effect category.
The protest Saturday brought white supremacists and nationalists, as well as neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members, face-to-face with counterprotesters who also included anti-fascists, or “antifa.” Trump’s first statement following the death of 32-year-old counterprotester Heather Heyer cited “many sides” at fault for the violence.
Two days later, amid mounting public pressure to condemn the white supremacists by name, Trump spoke at the White House to specifically blast any form of racism or bigotry and called out the hate groups.
But on Tuesday, Trump returned to his rhetoric of “many sides” during a press conference at Trump Tower that was supposed to focus on plans to revamp the country’s infrastructure.
Instead, Trump suggested that the “alt-left” had an equal role in the violence, and also stated that if Lee’s statue could be taken down then former Presidents George Washington’s and Thomas Jefferson’s could as well. Trump brought up the fact that both presidents had been slave owners while accusing the media at the conference of improperly reporting the protest.
“Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” Trump said. “So this week, it is Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, Where does it stop?”
The president reaffirmed his stance on the issue Thursday morning in three tweets, again invoking Lee, Jefferson and Washington, and citing the “beauty” of the Confederate statutes being taken down around the country.
The poll was conducted from Monday to Wednesday and drew from a sample of 1,223 adults around the country.
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