Florida politicians slammed slurs President Donald Trump allegedly made to a group of lawmakers in Washington Wednesday about Haiti and other African nations, reportedly calling them “shithole countries” while talking about immigration.
Trump allegedly grew angry with lawmakers at a meeting when discussing protecting immigrants from Haiti and African nations as part of a program to protect “dreamers” from deportation.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to people at the meeting.
The president denied making the comments Friday morning in a series of tweets.
“The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used,” he wrote. “What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!”
Trump later tweeted comments about “taking them out” -- referring to Haitians -- were “made up” by Democrats.
Despite Trump’s denial, the comments quickly drew global condemnation and Florida lawmakers joined in the chorus of calling the president out for what they deemed as “insensitive” remarks.
“The President’s ongoing war against immigrants appears to be solely directed toward those immigrants of color,” said Haitian-American state Sen. Daphne Campbell, D-Miami Shores. “I am appalled and disgusted that the man who stands as the symbol of a nation once offering refuge and sanctuary to all immigrants is doing his best to say: ‘non-whites need not apply.’"
The Florida Democratic Party trashed the president and Republican lawmakers for not publicly disagreeing with his comments on Friday.
"President Trump made remarks which were obscene, racist and vile,” said the Florida Democratic Party, calling the silence from GOP gubernatorial candidates Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis “alarming” and “deafening.”
Putnam broke his silence Friday and condemned the remarks.
“If the reports are accurate, I do not agree with the comments made about countries whose people are an important part of our communities today and have made positive contributions to our culture and economy," he said.
Even some of Trump’s closest allies said they didn’t feel the comments were appropriate if true.
“If this report is true it is absolutely wrong to say or think this. I do not think this way nor do I agree with this kind of sentiment,” said Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday. “I represent Florida, and we are an amazing melting pot where over 250 languages are spoken. I work every day to make this the most welcoming state for everyone – Haitians, Cubans, Venezuelans, and others from all around the world that call Florida home. I’m incredibly proud of our diversity.”
Leaders in the House of Representatives -- both Republicans and Democrats -- issued a joint statement Friday afternoon condemning what Trump was reported to say. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, was joined by several other lawmakers including House Majority Leader Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, and House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, D-Tampa.
“If the remarks attributed to President Trump are accurate, they have no place in our public discourse," they said in a statement. "America’s greatness is self-evident, we do not need to tear down other nations. The leadership of the Florida House celebrates our diversity."
Other lawmakers appeared to defend the president during a debate over a bill to ban sanctuary cities in the Florida House on Friday.
“President Trump loves all people,” said Rep. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota.
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