Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday asserted that congressional Republicans are enabling President Donald Trump’s “naked racism,” arguing they are not outspoken because they’re afraid Trump may hurt them politically.
“Are you suggesting that Republicans in Congress, around the country, are enabling racism?” CNN’s John Berman asked Buttigieg on “New Day” Wednesday.
“Absolutely. They are enabling all of the wrongdoing that this President has brought with him — from inaction on Russia interference to naked racism,” Buttigieg, who serves as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, replied.
“Look, 20 years ago, when David Duke, the Klan leader, ran for governor as a Republican — tried to in Louisiana — the Republican Party was horrified. They ran away from him as fast as you can go. Now, you see racism emanating from the White House and Republicans are either supporting it or they are silent. And the thing that’s really important to understand right now is they know better,” he said.
“He’s betraying not just my values, but his own party’s values. They know it. They are silent because they are afraid,” Buttigieg added.
Trump has been criticized from Democrats and progressives for racist attacks he recently made on four minority congresswomen, which were condemned in a resolution by House Democrats that was largely opposed by House Republicans. On Saturday, Trump lobbed attacks on a prominent black congressman and the city of Baltimore, parts of which are in the congressman’s district.
On Tuesday, Buttigieg said during the first night of CNN’s Democratic debate that congressional Republicans “are supporting naked racism in the White House or, at best, silent about it,” and then directly addressed the GOP members he was criticizing, saying, “the thing you will be remembered for is whether in this moment with this President you found the courage to stand up to him or you continue to put party over country.”
Asked on “New Day” how he can gain traction among African-American voters, Buttigieg pointed to his “Douglass Plan,” named for abolitionist Frederick Douglass, which would seek to combat racial inequality by focusing on reforming health care, education, entrepreneurship, criminal justice and voting rights on a federal level.
“Whenever we get the chance to talk about this bold vision — the most comprehensive vision, I believe, of any candidate talking about systematic racism — we get a fantastic response. My obligation, responsibility, is to go out there, explain it and sell it, and whenever we get the chance to do it we find it helps us grow and build our support among African-American voters,” he said.