The Republican National Committee walked the tightrope Friday in carefully but resolutely denouncing white supremacist groups without criticizing President Donald Trump, who waffled in his own statements in the wake of the deadly clash in Virginia this month.
Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, the RNC approved a raft of resolutions, including one asserting “Nazis, the KKK, white supremacists and others are repulsive, evil and have no fruitful place in the United States.”
And while the vote was unanimous, some members had grumbled the resolution was unnecessary and reflected unnecessary defensiveness.
“It’s amazing that we have been lured into this argument that we’re not racists. It’s absurd,” said Colorado Republican Chairman Jeff Hays. “Why would we feel compelled to do that?”
The sentiment reflects a difference between RNC leaders concerned about the party’s image in light of President Donald Trump’s latest rhetorical thicket and newer, more ardently pro-Trump state Republican leaders who say such a statement appears defensive.
But this was a priority for Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, as well as for committee members who were openly bothered by Trump’s initial resistance to singling out the racist groups after the Charlottesville violence.
Hearing about the grumbling, McDaniel made the rounds Friday morning to reinforce with members that the measure was a priority.
“Every day, I wake up proud that we’re the party of Lincoln,” McDaniel told the committee Friday. “Condemning violence is not a Republican or Democratic issue. It is an American issue.”
Despite the resolution, there doesn’t appear to be a softening of support for the president within the party’s national organization.
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