Both of South Carolina’s Republican U.S. senators are challenging President Donald Trump’s statements Tuesday equivocating about the violence at a white supremacist rally over the weekend.
Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, said Trump’s words were “dividing Americans.” Tim Scott, R-North Charleston, took an apparent swipe at fellow Republican Trump on Twitter, calling for leadership that sees “no gray area” with racism.
Their remarks came after Trump reiterated Tuesday that he blames “both sides” for violence in Charlottesville, Va.
During a press conference, Trump blamed both neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members, who rallied against the removal of a Confederate monument, and counter-protesters — some of whom were injured and one killed when a driver drove his car into a crowd on a Charlottesville street.
“What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right?” Trump said. “Do they have any semblance of guilt?”
Just hours later Tuesday, Scott tweeted: “My party&our nation must stand united against hate, racism& groups/individuals who want to reject the truth that we are all from one blood.”
“The moral authority of this nation rests upon clarity of convictions & actions that reinforce our commitment to the greater good for all!” he said.
In a statement Wednesday, Graham challenged Trump’s comments directly.
“Your words are dividing Americans, not healing them,” Graham said Wednesday, adding Trump should do more to bring the country together.
Scott didn’t mention Trump by name in his Twitter feed but said he wanted to send a message from “my house to the White House.”
“Our American family deserves conspicuous, determined leadership that stands in the gap for principles of freedom and the pursuit of liberty,” Scott wrote. “There is absolutely NO gray area when it comes to condemning groups who breed on racism, hate and division.”
A memorial service was held Wednesday for Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old Charlottesville woman killed in the car attack.
“President Trump took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer,” Graham said. “I, along with many others, do not endorse this moral equivalency.
“Many Republicans do not agree with and will fight back against the idea that the Party of Lincoln has a welcome mat out for the David Dukes of the world,” Graham said, referring to a onetime Klan leader.