WASHINGTON — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on Thursday that President Trump should focus on “policies and not the personality” when criticizing his Democratic opponents in the future.
Graham was asked if he thinks the “send her back” chant about Rep. Ilham Omar (D-Minn.) during Trump’s North Carolina rally was racist.
“No. I don’t think it’s racist to say. Was it racist to say, ‘Love it or leave it’?” Graham said. “A Somali refugee embracing Trump would not have been asked to go back. If you’re a racist, you want everybody from Somalia to go back because they’re black or they’re Muslim.”
On Monday, Trump said that first-year congresswomen such as Omar should leave the U.S. if they are unhappy. Graham said political debate should be about policy.
“My beef is with policy and not personality,” Graham said. “I wish he [the president] would talk about the policies and not the personality.”
President Donald Trump said he was “not happy” with the chant at his rally on Wednesday night, adding that he will try to stop it if it happens again.
Trump was asked if he is concerned that the chant might put Omar in danger.
“I wasn’t happy with that message they gave last night. That was a packed arena,” Trump said. “I think we have far more support than they do and we have far more energy than they do and we’re going to have a very interesting election. But I was not happy when I heard that chant.”
“You’ll stop them if they try to do it again?” a reporter asked Trump.
“Well, I didn’t like that they did it and I started speaking very quickly,” he said, adding that “there was a tremendous amount of noise and action and everything else. I started very quickly. And I think you know that.”
Trump continued, “I will try. I will certainly try.”