GOP Conference Vice Chairman Counters Trump: Maxine Waters Is 'Very Smart'

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) leaves the House Democratic Caucus meeting in the Capitol on June 26, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Sunday that while President Trump and others could say many things about Maxine Waters, “to indicate she’s not a bright person is not one of them.”

In June, Trump tweeted that California Democratic Rep. Waters is “an extraordinarily low IQ person.” At a Montana rally a month ago, Trump said the congresswoman’s IQ is “somewhere in the mid-60s, I believe.”

After NBA star LeBron James sat down with CNN’s Don Lemon a week ago to discuss his new school for at-risk youth in Akron, Ohio, Trump tweeted, “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”

Michael Jordan replied in a statement, “I support LJ. He’s doing an amazing job for his community.” First lady Melania Trump’s spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said, “It looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation and just as she always has, the First Lady encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today. As you know, Mrs. Trump has traveled the country and world talking to children about their well-being, healthy living, and the importance of responsible online behavior with her Be Best initiative.” Grisham said Melania Trump “would be open to visiting the I Promise School in Akron.”

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, Blunt, who is vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, was asked about a tweet from Peter Wehner, a speechwriter who worked in the Reagan administration and both Bush administrations. “Trump’s made the same criticism of black athletes, black journalists & black Members of Congress. He attacks their intelligence. His racist appeals aren’t even disguised anymore. The closest figure in modern national politics to Trump? George Wallace. Trump now defines the GOP,” Wehner said.

Blunt countered that “the GOP’s not anti-black.”

“And when you look at what’s happening in the economy and lots of other places. But you know, when he says things like low-IQ about somebody like Maxine Waters who grew up in St. Louis… I think you’ve got to be more careful in our society about what you say about people that are different than you,” the senator said.

“And, you know, a lot of things, for instance, you could say about Maxine Waters. But to indicate she’s not a bright person is not one of them. She is very smart and very calculating, and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. So, I served with her in the House,” Blunt added. “I embrace her as a person who has given a lot of time to public service and has a different viewpoint than I do, but it’s not a viewpoint that’s not based on her factual view of the world.”

Blunt was also asked about a weekend tweet from Trump: “The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!”

“It’s not — not my point of view. You know, I see the media, the press, every day, in the capital, walking through to my office, to the floor. Lots of questions. Generally, really good questions,” Blunt said. “I do think there is so much news out there, it’s harder to focus in if you’re part of the media than it may have been at one time. And if you watch TV every day, you could find some things that you, on various news channels, you found objectionable and probably believe not to be — not to be true.”

“The president’s rallies, people seem to respond to that. I would say that. I’ve not been to one of these rallies. But I’ve watched them. And that seems to be something that a lot of Americans identify with,” he added. “I think all of us who try to communicate need to realize there’s some real challenge out there of who believes what we say and how we say it, whether that’s you or me.”