Rep. Elijah Cummings said that the events of the past week that began with President Donald Trump’s racist “go back” tweet aimed at four progressive congresswomen reminded him of what it was like being 12 years old in Baltimore in 1962. “We were trying to integrate an Olympic-size pool near my house, and we had been constrained to a wading pool in the black community,” the Maryland Democrat said on ABC’s This Week. “As we tried to March to that pool over six days, I was beaten, all kinds of rocks and bottles thrown at me. And the interesting thing is that I heard the same chants. ‘Go home. You don’t belong here.’ And they called us the N-word over and over again.”
When Trump, and his supporters, use that kind of language “it brings up the same feelings that I had over 50 some years ago and it’s very, very painful. It’s extremely divisive and I just don’t think that this is becoming of the president of the United States of America, the leader of the entire world,” the chairman of the House Oversight Committee said.
When host George Stephanopoulos asked Cummings whether Trump is a racist, he didn’t hesitate. “Yes, no doubt about it,” he said. “I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt but when I think about what he said to these young ladies who are merely trying to bring excellence to government … when I hear those things it takes me back.” Cummings also said at another point of the interview that it was the first time in his “37 years in public service” that he has heard “a constituent say they were scared of their leader.”
Sen. Cory Booker, meanwhile, said Trump is “worse than a racist” on CNN’s State of the Union. “He is actually using racist tropes and racial language for political gain. He is trying to use this as a weapon to divide our nation against itself,” the New Jersey Democrat told CNN’s Dana Bash. Booker went on to say that Trump “is very similar to George Wallace,” noting that “he’s using the exact same language.” Booker made the comments after Bash challenged him about why he had stopped short of calling Trump a racist unlike other presidential contenders. “We have a demagogue, fear-mongering person who’s using race to divide,” Booker said. “And this is a referendum, not on him. It’s actually a referendum on the heart and soul of our country.”
Speaking on CBS’ Face the Nation, Booker hit on the same theme and accused Trump of “using race like a weapon to divide our country against itself.”
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.Join Slate Plus