President Donald Trump was criticized on both sides of the political aisle for his reaction to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which he said there was violence “on many sides.” Republican Senators Cory Gardner and Marco Rubio both called out the president for not calling the car incident that killed one person as “domestic terrorism.”
Rubio of Florida added, “Very important for the nation to hear @potus describe events in #Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by #whitesupremacists.”
“Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism,” Gardner of Colorado tweeted.
Conservative pundit Bill Kristol, who has been a Trump critic, also said Trump should have denounced bigotry in his speech.
During his brief remarks from his golf club in New Jersey on Saturday, Trump did not call the incident “domestic terrorism” and never referred to the white supremacists who organized the “Unite the Right” rally.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms, this display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides,” Trump said. “It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”
When asked by NBC News to clarify what Trump meant by “on many sides,” a White House official replied, “The President was condemning hatred, bigortry and violence from all sources and all sides. There was violence between protesters and counter protesters today.”
Trump also failed to mention racism in his initial reactions on Twitter. “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one,” he wrote.
Trump’s “on many sides” began trending on Twitter, as critics called him out for suggesting that there was violence on both sides on Saturday. Some noted that it wasn’t as strong as Trump’s repeated condemnation of “radical Islam.”
The rally was organized by white supremacists and the “alt-right” movement to protest plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, the home of the University of Virginia. During the protest, a car drove into a group of counter-protesters, killing one person and leaving dozens injured.
Here are other reactions to the president’s message.