President Donald Trump on Wednesday intensified his attacks on four progressive Democratic congresswomen, painting them as the face of the Democratic Party – as a fevered crowd chanted “Send her back!” about an American congresswoman of color.
Trump spent a significant portion of the rally railing against the group, known as “The Squad” on Capitol Hill, individually by name. That line of attack has become a strategy he and aides believe will cast the Democratic Party as a far left, radical group.
The attacks began on Sunday when the President told the four minority lawmakers to “go back” to their “crime infested” countries. Three of the four women were born in the US and the other is a naturalized citizen.
At a wide-ranging, 90-minute campaign rally, Trump attacked Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who he referred to as “Cortez,” because “I don’t have time to go with three different names.”
Though he’s known to go off script, Trump read from a teleprompter as he went on a screed against the four Democratic congresswomen with whom he’s brawled for four days.
As the President castigated Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar with a litany of accusations, the crowd chanted, “Send her back!” Trump made no effort to stop the chant, pausing during his remarks as the chant grew louder.
The progressive lawmaker was born in Somalia but came to the US as a refugee in 2000 and became an American citizen when she was 17, according to the New York Times.
Omar responded in a tweet Wednesday evening, quoting poet Maya Angelou.
“You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise,” she wrote.
Trump warned the four congresswomen of color “fuel the rise of a dangerous, violent hard left.”
“That’s why I said, hey, if they don’t like it, let them leave,” he said. “They don’t love our country. I think in some cases, they hate our country.”
He characterized the lawmakers as “so angry.” “They were trying to be nice, but it’s hard,” he said.
The prolonged attack was yet another escalation in a week where Trump has specifically targeted the lawmakers, known as “The Squad,” in an attempt to paint them as the face of his political opposition.
While those close to the President have conceded his line about going back to the places they came from was not helpful, Trump’s allies believe the overall strategy of making the four congresswomen the face of the Democratic Party will be a successful one, helping him frame the party as a far left, radical group.
He cast a vote for a Democrat in 2020 more broadly as “a vote for radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream. Frankly, the destruction of our country.”
Before departing the White House, Trump told reporters he thinks he’s “winning” the fight.
“I do think I am winning the political fight,” Trump said, saying the Democratic Party is “going so far left, they’re going to fall off a cliff.”
He said he was “not relishing the fight” with the Democratic congresswomen, but was enjoying himself nonetheless.
“I’m enjoying it because I have to get the word out to the American people … It’s not a question of relishing, they’re wrong,” he said. “We’re not going to be a socialist country, it’s not going to happen.”
Trump employed a similar strategy during the 2018 midterm elections, in which his party lost 40 seats to the Democrats. It’s also part of how he successfully won the presidency in 2016 – but it’s unclear if the strategy will again appeal to the same moderate voters he needs win over in 2020 swing states.
Trump also celebrated news that the House of Representatives blocked an impeachment resolution proposed by a lone Democratic lawmaker during a campaign rally in North Carolina.
“I just heard that the US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly voted to kill the most ridiculous project I have ever been involved in. The resolution – how stupid is that – on impeachment,” he said to applause upon taking the stage at a campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina.
He thanked the Democrats, calling it a “totally lopsided” vote. The vote Wednesday evening was 332-95.
Ninety-five Democrats – a little more than 40% of the Democratic caucus – voted against tabling it, or to keep it alive. That’s more Democrats who voted against tabling it in 2017 (58) and 2018 (66).
Trump had tweeted shortly after the vote, lamenting that it was “the most ridiculous and time consuming project I have ever had to work on” and claiming it “is now OVER!”
However, the vote just means impeachment has been tabled for now. Rep. Al Green, the Texas Democrat who introduced the resolution, said on Wednesday that he would consider forcing another impeachment vote if necessary.
The resolution was introduced after Trump’s racist tweets aimed at four Democratic congresswomen of color injected drama and tumult into an already-divided Washington this week. On Wednesday evening, he left all that behind for friendlier territory, holding a campaign rally before an arena of supporters in Greenville, North Carolina.
Wednesday evening marked Trump’s first rally since he officially kicked off his reelection campaign last month in Orlando where he delivered a wide-ranging, lengthy speech echoing many similar themes and grievances of his 2016 campaign, including attacks on Clinton.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Jeremy Herb, Ashley Killough contributed to this report.