Republican Congressman Pete Stauber brushed off a call to condemn the president Tuesday, telling the News Tribune that he’s moving past a controversy casting President Donald Trump’s Twitter remarks this week as racist.
“Just last week, four freshman colleagues of mine publicly accused Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi of racism,” Stauber said in an emailed statement. “This week, these same members are accusing the president of racism. I did not run for Congress to get distracted by the name-calling happening on both sides of the aisle.”
The 8th District representative had been put on blast by the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which called on Stauber this week to denounce the president for his series of tweets dating back to Sunday.
“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” Trump tweeted Sunday in reference to Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
On Tuesday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to condemn Trump for his remarks, 240 to 187.
Stauber did not vote for the condemnation. Only four Republicans — Reps. Susan Brooks of Indiana, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Will Hurd of Texas and Fred Upton of Michigan — joined Democrats in backing the resolution, along with one independent, Justin Amash of Michigan.
The statement and subsequent others have generated a firestorm of debate, with some calling the remarks racist and evocative of hateful rhetoric that calls for people of color and non-English speakers to return to their countries of origin. Only one of the four congresswomen targeted by the president was born outside the U.S. and all are U.S. citizens.
“It’s past time for Stauber to condemn Donald Trump and his racist comments in the strongest possible terms,” DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said Monday. “By remaining silent, Stauber is offering implicit support for the president’s overt bigotry. Minnesotans expect our representatives to have political courage, yet we have seen no evidence of that from Pete Stauber.”
In his statement, Stauber said he was elected to find solutions to pressing issues facing Minnesotans, including “protecting Social Security and Medicare, deploying rural broadband, investing in our crumbling infrastructure, and growing the economy for the middle class.”
He also noted his March vote in favor of an anti-Semitism resolution in the House of Representatives. That resolution sprung from comments made by Omar, who was openly questioning support for the country of Israel. Her comments, including a tweet that said support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins baby,” were viewed by some as anti-Semitic.
The House resolution condemned anti-Semitism as “hateful expressions of intolerance.” The resolution passed overwhelmingly, but did not identify Omar in the final wording.
“I am already on the record voting for resolutions condemning divisive language,” Stauber said Tuesday, “and I hope Washington, D.C., and all Americans, can move forward to advance our exceptional nation.”
Stauber has generally been supportive of the president. He appeared on stage with the president at Trump’s rally in Duluth in 2018. Stauber also supported Trump following the release of the Mueller Report, saying there was “no collusion, no coordination” found in the report and that it was time to move on.
In March, Stauber disagreed with Trump’s budget proposal, which called for $1.9 trillion worth of cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
“While I agree with President Trump’s overall goal to reduce the skyrocketing national debt, I believe we can do so without reducing spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security programs countless Minnesotans rely on,” Stauber said at the time. “I made a promise to protect these critical programs for those who need it most, and it is a promise I intend to keep.”