Do this week’s comments from President Trump, in which he told four minority congresswomen to "go back" to the countries they came from, make him a racist?
According to former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich, a Republican, no. But, he told FOX Business' Gerry Baker during a Friday interview on “WSJ at Large” that the president has to do a better job explaining himself.
“He needs to be clear about what he means to say,” he said. “I recall the Charlottesville incident where we knew what he meant to say, but it didn’t come off like that and he paid the price. It would certainly be more beneficial to the president to be more careful with his terminology.”
Ehrlich was referring to the moment when Trump blamed both sides for deadly violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., while defending those who gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.
“I think there is blame on both sides,” the president said in August. “You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.”
This week, however, Trump was once again accused of being a racist after he tweeted that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) should "go back" to the countries they originally came from because they have criticized his presidency and the U.S. Only one of the women, Omar, who is from Somalia, was born outside of the U.S.
"Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came," he wrote. "Then come back and show us how it is done."
Ehrlich dismissed the accusation, saying that the term racist is used so much that it’s losing its meaning.
“To use these terms so easily, in my view, is hurting, clearly, political discourse but hurts the culture as well,” he said..“You can’t disagree, or you’re called a name. We’ve got to get away from that.”
Hawk Newsome, the chairman of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, said he disagreed with Ehrlich, arguing that Trump is a racist.
“There’s just so much hate out here in this world, so much divisiveness out here in America, and the hateful people are the loudest ones,” he said. “It starts with the White House and trickles all the way down…You have a person in the White House who says the same things white supremacists say, that I’ve heard white supremacists say to me personally.”
So what could change that perception of the president? Ehrlich suggested the president improve his standing with minorities in America.
“Go to some of the toughest neighborhoods in this country,” he said. “Talk to folks living there in real terms…'I’m here. I’m different. I know what they say about me. I want you to be wealthier. I want you to be less poor. I want your kids to go to better schools. I support charter schools. Look at the economy.’”
And he said Trump needs to pay attention to the people as well.
“Listen to what they’re saying, engage,” he said. “If he engages the black community in this country, with his record-- particularly in regards to the economy and education-- he’ll be far better off for reelection.”