Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney called on President Trump to apologize for his comments on the Charlottesville violence, warning in a lengthy Facebook post Friday that it marked a “defining moment” for the president.
“This is a defining moment for President Trump. But much more than that, it is a moment that will define America in the hearts of our children,” wrote Romney, urging Trump to “repudiate” racists.
The president has been under fire since last weekend’s Charlottesville clashes. He initially declined to specifically condemn the white supremacist organizers of the rally, broadly assigning blame for the violence to both them and the counerprotesters, one of whom died when a driver with alleged neo-Nazi sympathies plowed into a crowd. Trump then backed down Monday, calling out the white supremacists. But on Tuesday he returned, denouncing “both sides” and saying there were good people on both.
Romney, who repeatedly and passionately criticized Trump during last year’s campaign, responded Tuesday on Twitter, writing: “One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes.”
In the Friday statement, Romney expanded on his point: “Whether [Trump] intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn. His apologists strain to explain that he didn’t mean what we heard. But what we heard is now the reality, and unless it is addressed by the president as such, with unprecedented candor and strength, there may commence an unraveling of our national fabric.”
Romney also noted that military leaders have broken from Trump and clearly condemned the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. The former Massachusetts governor warned that the “morale and commitment of our forces … could be in the balance” in the aftermath of Trump’s remarks.
“Our allies around the world are stunned and our enemies celebrate; America’s ability to help secure a peaceful and prosperous world is diminished,” Romney wrote. “And who would want to come to the aid of a country they perceive as racist if ever the need were to arise, as it did after 9/11?”
Romney offered a solution for Trump, instructing him to “take remedial action in the extreme” by apologizing and walking back the remarks that blamed both sides.
“State forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville,” Romney wrote. “Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis … and the counter-protesters who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag, Nazi armband and Nazi salute. And once and for all, [Trump] must definitively repudiate the support of David Duke and his ilk and call for every American to banish racists and haters from any and every association.”
“The world is watching,” Romney concluded. “Mr. President, act now for the good of the country.”
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