McSally: 'White supremacy has no place in America'
With dozens of national Republicans specifically blasting President Donald Trump's responses to the fatal neo-Nazi rally in Virginia, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally made a restrained comment Tuesday evening: "Let's be clear: white supremacy or any form of racism, bigotry, violence or domestic terrorism has no place in America."
McSally's tweet came after days of calls by local Democratic activists for her to comment on the incident. While she had tweeted about a drug bust in Douglas and tourism in Bisbee, McSally had previously been silent on the weekend's attacks by white supremacists.
The Republican congresswoman's statement also followed the continuing controversy over Trump's statements. Beyond calls from Democrats, dozens of prominent GOP conservatives repeatedly challenged the president of specifically condemn white supremacy and neo-Nazis.
Trump's initial tepid remarks about the rally that led to the deaths of three in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday were followed by a condemnation of white supremacists on Monday — but Trump walked back those comments in an angry press conference Tuesday.
Instead, Trump blamed "both sides" and said there were "very fine people" among those gathered at the so-called "Unite the Right" rally. While McSally's condemnation was released Tuesday, many of her GOP colleagues had blasted both the white supremacist movement and Trump himself in much stronger terms to several days.
House Speaker Paul Ryan didn't mention Trump or Charlottesville, but tweeted after Trump's latest change in course: "We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity."
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a conservative House member from Florida, responded to Trump on Tuesday by tweeting: "Blaming 'both sides' for #Charlottesville?! No. Back to relativism when dealing with KKK, Nazi sympathizers, white supremacists? Just no."
Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, said: "No, not the same. One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes."
In a scathing editorial, the Washington Post said, "The nation can only weep":
On Saturday, after the murder of an innocent protester in Charlottesville followed marches that included armed men and Nazi salutes, President Trump’s instinct was to blame both sides. Widespread criticism followed, including the resignations of business leaders from a White House advisory council and condemnation from political leaders of both parties. On Monday, Mr. Trump read a prepared statement condemning white supremacists and racism, delivering it in a manner suggesting he neither wrote nor endorsed the words. On Tuesday, he removed any doubt: His initial reaction, putting Nazis and those protesting them on equal moral footing, is how he really feels.
Locally, Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller created a firestorm of controversy when she responded to a discussion of Trump's failure to condemn white supremacists by declaring Saturday that " "I'm sick and tired of being hit for being white....It is all about making us feel like we need to apologize. I am WHITE - and proud of it! No apologies necessary."
Democrats on the Pima County Board of Supervisors said Miller should apologize. She did not respond to reporters' requests for comment.
Miller commented on a Facebook thread following news reports of the fatal attack Saturday, in which a Charlottesville woman was killed and more than a dozen others injured when a white supremacist allegedly drove his car into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters. That Ohio man faces a murder charge, Virginia authorities said.
The Facebook post, by unsuccessful former GOP mayor candidate Shaun McClusky, was a share a Politico report on Trump's remarks earlier Saturday. The president's vague condemnation of "hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides" was blasted by many, including a number of prominent Republicans.
"Mr. President - we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism," said U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO).
"We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home," said U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).
Arizona's GOP senators joined their colleagues in repudiating the neo-Nazi factions, with U.S. Sen. John McCain saying we must "defy those who raise the flag of hatred and bigotry."
"White supremacists and neo-Nazis are, by definition, opposed to American patriotism and the ideals that define us as a people and make our nation special," McCain said.
"The #WhiteSupremacy in #Charlottesville does not reflect the values of the America I know," U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake tweeted. "Hate and bigotry have no place in this country."
Prominent "alt-right" organizers welcomed Trump's mealy-mouthed initial statement, with Nazi website the Daily Stormer remarking that "Trump comments were good. He didn't attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate ... on both sides! So he implied the antifa are haters. There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all. He said he loves us all. Also refused to answer a question about White Nationalists supporting him. No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him."