The head of Cory Booker’s New Hampshire campaign operation on Tuesday said President Donald Trump’s rallies “serve as a breeding ground for racism and bigotry that inspire attacks like the one in El Paso” and he should cancel a rally planned there next week.
“What’s overwhelmingly clear is that Trump coming to New Hampshire will only stoke further dangerous acts and threaten Americans’ safety,” said Erin Turmelle, New Hamphire state director of Booker’s presidential campaign.
Trump’s planned rally on Aug. 15 at the SNHU Arena would be his first since the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, last weekend, according to the campaign website. Authorities in El Paso said the shooter is believed to have written a racist manifesto that described the attack as a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
Booker has joined with other Democratic presidential candidates in calling Trump a racist who has inspired racially focused attacks by white supremacists. Booker has said that Trump was “responsible” for the El Paso attack and charged that he is “worse than a racist” because he is “using racist tropes and racial language for political gains.”
“Donald Trump has been sowing this kind of hatred in our country when he talks about invasions and infestations and ‘s…hole’ countries, when he tells people to go back,” Booker said this week on MSNBC. “He is responsible for sowing these kinds of divisions that are giving license to hate mongers.”
Through the state director, the Booker campaign went beyond attacking Trump and referenced the atmosphere at the Trump rallies and those who are in attendance.
“Two days before Cory Booker returns to New Hampshire, Donald Trump is planning to hold a rally in Manchester,” Turmelle said in the statement.
“As we’ve seen repeatedly over the last few years, these rallies serve as a breeding ground for racism and bigotry that inspire white nationalist attacks like the one in El Paso on Saturday,” she said. “They are despicable and have no place in New Hampshire, or anywhere in our country. That’s why Trump must cancel this rally.”
The statement said that Trump should call on Congress “to take meaningful action on gun legislation,” saying that Booker has “the boldest plan of anyone to address gun violence,” which includes a proposal for a federal license for gun ownership.
“What’s overwhelmingly clear is that Trump coming to New Hampshire will only stoke further dangerous acts and threaten Americans’ safety. Our country deserves better in the Oval Office,” Turmelle said.
A campaign spokesperson said the campaign approved the statement and that Booker himself supports it and believes the rally should be canceled.
“New Hampshire voters know that rallies that spew hate and seek to divide us are not New Hampshire values,” the spokesperson said.
The RNC, which is working in tandem with the Trump reelection campaign, responded by accusing Booker and his fellow candidates of trying to politicize the tragedy and compared the Booker campaign comment to Clinton’s 2016 “basket of deplorables” remarks.
“In a desperate attempt for relevancy, Cory Booker is taking a page from Hillary Clinton’s book of sweeping generalizations that insults and demeans millions of Americans,” said RNC spokesperson Nina McLaughlin. “Shame on Cory Booker for fueling the partisan flames with this ridiculous rhetoric.”
“President Trump proposed commonsense, bipartisan solutions that should be taken seriously,” McLaughlin said. She said was referring to Trump’s Monday morning speech, in which he called for reforming mental health laws and for “red flag” laws, which would prevent those who pose “a grave risk to public safety” to not have access to firearms — or have firearms taken away.
Trump also said he was directing the Department of Justice to propose legislation “ensuring that those who commit hate crimes and mass murders face the death penalty.”
In September 2016, Clinton, speaking at an LGBTQ fundraiser in New York City, said, “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.
“They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people – now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks – they are irredeemable, but thankfully, they are not America.”
The Booker campaign cited the Trump rally in mid-July when Trump did not try to stop supporters from chanting, “Send her back,” in reference to U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar. He said the following day he did not like the chants.
But one of Trump’s top New Hampshire supporters blasted Booker and defended Trump and the people at his rallies.
“That man is despicable,” said state Rep. Al Baldasaro said, referring to the New Jersey senator.
Baldasaro noted that Booker has admitted that when he was 15 years old, he groped a female friend. Baldasaro said that as a result of that admission, Booker has no standing to attack Trump.
“Donald Trump is far from a racist,” Baldasaro said. “And the people at his rallies are hard-working Americans who want the best for their children. I meet a lot of these people. They come from all walks of life.”
“He’s crazy,” Baldasaro said of Booker.
U.S. Senate candidate Bill O’Brien, a former New Hampshire House speaker, also spoke out in defense of Trump.
“President Trump stated that in one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy,” O’Brien said. “I join that call to action. Instead of attacking the president of the United States on the eve of a visit to New Hampshire, the Democratic candidates for president would do better in joining him as part of that one voice.”
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