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House Dem Leaders: GOP 'Environment of Radicalism, Fear and Exclusion' Preceded Trump

WASHINGTON — House Democratic leaders began their press conference today by showing a video of Republican lawmakers saying things that, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) argued, proves they’re no different than Donald Trump.

The video includes quotes from Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) on surveillance of Muslims, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) on Mexican drug smugglers, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on defunding Planned Parenthood, and more.

The unveiling was timed for the day before Trump visits Capitol Hill to meet with GOP leaders including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

“All we could present to you today is what they had said in an official setting. In another setting off campus, we will show you what they have said on the campaign trail… I said there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between Donald Trump and the House Republicans what they say. Attacks on women in the Congress are a dime a dozen. Republicans use taxpayer funds to create a panel to attack women’s health and advance a plan of blatant intimidation,” Pelosi told reporters.

“They are taking names. They are taking names. You saw that chairwoman of that committee, Congresswoman Blackburn, they are taking names. Does that sound familiar? Republican Trent Franks tries to roll back women’s access to comprehensive healthcare because he thinks rape can’t cause pregnancy, and he’s a Judiciary Subcommittee chair. Meanwhile, again, Marsha Blackburn says women don’t want equal pay and Speaker Ryan calls leave for families an unfunded mandated while he says people should have time to spend with their families but — personally, but not to support it officially.”

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) added that “the Republicans have created an environment of radicalism, fear and exclusion.”

“The presumptive nominee is the result of their work, and what they have sowed they are now reaping,” Hoyer said. “Tomorrow, House Republicans will welcome Donald Trump to Capitol Hill, someone who supports legislation to allow businesses to refuse services to LGBT people and their families; segregation revisited. But this is nothing new, as the leader has said. In fact, House Republicans have been supporting policy that expressly discriminate against Americans based on who they are or who they love.”

Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) charged that “from day one, Republican leaders and operatives have orchestrated a program of unprecedented disrespect for President Barack Obama… and as if on cue, Donald Trump picked up his efforts to lead the birther movement.”

When it was noted to Pelosi that many Republicans on Capitol Hill have not rallied around Trump, Pelosi said reporters missed her point.

“My point was, since when? Since when are the Republican leadership in this House appalled by anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, anti-Barack Obama, anti-women comments made by their members and officials?” Pelosi replied. “Donald Trump is a candidate. These people have power. They are chair of committees and chairs of sub-committees. They bring their vitriol into the form of legislation and to the floor to build walls to block immigrants, to block Muslims coming into our country.”

“So our point is, since when, all of the sudden is this very same rhetoric appalling to the Republican leadership and to some of the Republican establishment when this happens everyday here, on the floor, in committee, in press conferences and in an official way, and certainly out on the campaign trail.”

Pelosi charged that GOPs “never said ‘boo’ when their members were saying this every day.”

Clyburn said a “foundation” that was “laid over time” makes him “not surprised to see that Donald Trump has decided that this is the way to become president of the United States.”

“The beginning of the 1960s, the Republicans kicked off their campaign in the big — with Goldwater opposition to the Civil Rights Act. That was the foundation from which he built his campaign,” Clyburn said. “As you go through the 1970s, Richard Nixon built his campaign on what he called a Southern strategy, which he rode into the presidency. If you go to the 1980s, I mean, Ronald Reagan left his convention newly nominated to be the presidential standard-bearer for — bearer for the Republicans. Where was his first speech? He went straight to Philadelphia, Mississippi. What is Philadelphia and Mississippi known for? That’s where those three civil rights workers were murdered. His first speech as a nominee was in Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1980.”

Pelosi explained a slip in which she called Donald “Ronald”: “I keep thinking of him as Ronald McDonald, I don’t know why,” she said.