Ohio lawmakers are unhappy that President Barack Obama is renaming the Alaska mountain named after William McKinley
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman called it "another example of the president going around Congress"
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump vowed on Monday evening to overturn President Barack Obama’s decision to rename Alaska’s Mt. McKinley.
“President Obama wants to change the name of Mt. McKinley to Denali after more than 100 years. Great insult to Ohio. I will change back!” he tweeted Monday evening.
Trump joins Ohio lawmakers who knocked President Barack Obama’s decision to pull home-state legend William McKinley’s name from the highest peak in America and rename it “Denali” earlier Monday.
Obama said Sunday he would use his executive authority to rename the peak after its historic Native American title. The move is the latest example of how some longstanding traditions, such as the name of annual Democratic party dinners and the placement of the Confederate flag, are coming under closer scrutiny. And it highlights how changing names to honor the traditions and sacrifices of one group can come at the expense of offending another.
In returning Mt. McKinley to its native title, Obama says he is trying to undo what he sees as historical injustices. But the move is being slammed by lawmakers in Ohio as a slight against one of their state’s political legends, who was assassinated in 1901 while in office.
House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican who represents western Ohio, said he was “deeply disappointed” in the decision.
“There is a reason President McKinley’s name has served atop the highest peak in North America for more than 100 years, and that is because it is a testament to his great legacy,” Boehner said in a statement.
Another Republican, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, tweeted his disappointment Sunday night: “President McKinley was a proud Ohioan, and the mountain was named after him, as a way to remember his rich legacy after his assassination.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, meanwhile, recounted the story of a red carnation coming to symbolize McKinley and said “As POTUS once again oversteps his bounds, Ohio knows every carnation is a monument to our own William McKinley.”
The mountain and its 20,320-foot peak has long been at the center of a battle between Ohioans and Alaskans. Alaska’s political leaders, including its governor and both its senators have pushed for the peak to be re-titled “Denali,” after its local name.
“For generations Alaskans have known this majestic mountain as ‘the great one,’” U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, said in a video thanking Obama. “Today we’re honored to be able to officially recognize the mountain as Denali.”
Mt. McKinley is just the latest instance of re-examining longstanding traditions this year.
The massacre at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, this summer by a suspected white supremacist renewed the debate over the use of the Confederate Battle Flag on government grounds. South Carolina leaders ultimately agreed to remove the flag from state Capitol grounds and place it in a museum.
The fallout from the shooting also rippled through pop culture, with Walmart, Amazon and eBay all deciding to stop selling Confederate flag merchandise.
And many Democratic groups have decided to drop the name “Jefferson-Jackson” from dinner, in part because both presidents – Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson – were slave owners.
Obama, who is traveling to Alaska to press for answers on the environment, said in his weekly radio address that the nation’s highest peak is threatened by climate change.
CNN’s Jim Acosta and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.