The son of Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday criticized Vice President Mike Pence for citing the slain civil rights leader to make the case for a wall along the US-Mexico border.
On Sunday, Pence told CBS’s Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation,” in a discussion about ending the government shutdown which was sparked by a dispute about the border wall, that “the hearts and minds of the American people today are thinking a lot about it being the weekend we remember the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
“One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was ‘now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.’ You think of how he changed America,” Pence continued. “He inspired us to change through the legislative process to become a more perfect union. That’s exactly what President Trump is calling on the Congress to do: Come to the table in a spirit of good faith. We’ll secure our border, we’ll reopen our government.”
On Monday, speaking at a breakfast in Washington hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III addressed Pence’s remarks, which were mentioned by Sharpton as he introduced the younger King.
“Whenever I get to this period, it always is reflective. This year is probably more reflective than ever because I wonder what my father would be thinking and (asking), especially since we have an administration and administrators – and Rev. said the vice president, I forget exactly what you said, Rev. – but the vice president attempted to compare the President to Martin Luther King Jr.,” King said.
“Now, Martin Luther King Jr. was a bridge builder, not a wall builder. Martin Luther King Jr. would say love not hate would make America great. Did you all hear that? Love not hate would make America great. See, we hadn’t achieved, we’ve had spurts of greatness,” he said.
On Monday, Pence and President Donald Trump made a brief, unannounced visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial on the National Mall in recognition of the holiday honoring the late civil rights leader. Trump, alongside Pence, laid a wreath at the foot of the memorial before quickly returning to his motorcade.
During Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2017, Trump met with King at Trump Tower in New York in a meeting that King described as “constructive.”
CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, Maegan Vazquez, Gregory Krieg and Annie Grayer contributed to this report.