Republican Romney Criticizes Trump’s Handling of Charlottesville Protest

Former U.S. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized President Donald Trump on Friday for his handling of last Saturday’s violent white supremacist rally in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, that left three people dead and 19 others injured.

Romney’s comments were in response to Trump’s comments Tuesday that “both sides” were to blame for the violence at the rally.

In a posting on Facebook, Romney warned Trump to change his approach or face the possibility of further national unrest.

“Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated causes racists to rejoice, minorities to weep and the vast heart of America to mourn,” Romney said.

His post also warned that if Trump does not take “remedial action in the extreme,” there could be “an unraveling of our national fabric.”

The former Massachusetts governor said Trump should admit he was wrong when he equated the actions of counterprotesters with those of the white supremacists who organized the rally.

“Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis — who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat — and the counter-protesters who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag, Nazi armbands and Nazi salute,” he wrote.

Romney’s comments are the latest indication of a growing rift between Trump and his own political party.

Trump’s comments Tuesday, in which he said demonstrators from hate groups and counterprotesters shared the blame for the violence, unleashed unprecedented criticism of the president by Republican lawmakers. Some admonished Trump by name. Most released comments rejecting bigotry, though the timing of their messages indicated they were clearly responding to the president’s remarks.

On Thursday, Trump publicly attacked Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina for criticizing additional charged remarks in the days following the racially motivated protests.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona also incurred Trump’s wrath Thursday for writing in a recently-published book that Republicans abandoned their principles by surrendering to Trump’s “politics of anger.”

‘Radical change’

Speaking to the Chattanooga Rotary Club on Thursday in his home state of Tennessee, Republican Senator Bob Corker called for “radical change” in the White House to avoid “great peril.”

“The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence, that he needs to demonstrate in order for him to be successful,” Corker said.

No Republican lawmakers have appeared on television to defend Trump’s stance, and there has been silence from the White House.

Some political observers contend Trump cannot and will not change, and that could lead to serious consequences for Trump, as well as the party. 

“This is who Trump is, what he believes and what is natural. The more people see that, the more it shapes the picture of who Trump is,” Georgetown University Assistant Professor Hans Noel said. 

The political scientist told VOA this “may have electoral consequences in the future if things continue down this road.”

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