Representative Michael R. Turner, Republican of Ohio, wrote on Twitter that the president’s tweets “were racist and he should apologize,” adding, “We must work as a country to rise above hate, not enable it.” And Representative Will Hurd of Texas, the lone African-American among House Republicans, called the president’s remarks “racist and xenophobic.”
Others gently distanced themselves from the tweets — “aim higher,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said during an interview on Fox News, the president’s favorite channel — but grabbed the opportunity to criticize the progressive policies for which the squad has become the most visible advocates.
“Instead of sharing how the Democratic Party’s far-left, pro-socialist policies — not to mention the hateful language some of their members have used towards law enforcement and Jews — are wrong for the future of our nation,” said Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only African-American Republican in the Senate, “the president interjected with unacceptable personal attacks and racially offensive language. No matter our political disagreements, aiming for the lowest common denominator will only divide our nation further.”
Mr. Trump appeared to have particular contempt for Ms. Omar, who came to the country as a child and wears a hijab.
Mr. Trump falsely accused the Minnesota congresswoman of proclaiming “love” for Al Qaeda, “talking about how great Al Qaeda is,” and saying that “when I think of Al Qaeda, I can hold my chest out.” He was distorting remarks she made in a 2013 interview with a local television program on about Middle Eastern community issues.
In the interview, Ms. Omar repeatedly denounced Al Qaeda and one of its affiliates, Al Shabab, for committing “heinous” and “evil” acts and “atrocities.” The “hold my chest out” comment referred to her description of how she said her former college professor said “Al Qaeda” with physical intensity to emphasize the weight of the words during a discussion about why the Arabic names of terrorist groups are left untranslated.