Democrats in Virginia’s state legislature are vowing to boycott a ceremony in Jamestown later this month celebrating the 400th anniversary of representative government in the country if President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of ‘realpolitik’ Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: ‘We are going to reelect the president’ MORE attends the event.
The leaders of the Virginia House and Senate Democratic caucuses issued a statement Friday night slamming Trump and maintaining they may not note show up amid reports that the president was expected to attend the commemorative session.
“We will not be attending any part of the commemorative session where Donald Trump is in attendance. The current President does not represent the values that we would celebrate at the 400th anniversary of the oldest democratic body in the western world,” the Democrats said.
“We offer just three words of advice to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation: ‘Send Him Back,’” added the statement from Virginia Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw and caucus Chairwoman Mamie Locke along with House Democratic Leader Eileen Filler-Corn and caucus Chairwoman Charniele Herring.
The statement underscored the political uproar in recent days over tweets that Trump sent last weekend targeting four minority, freshman congresswomen, controversy punctuated by chants of “send her back” when Trump mentioned one of the Democrats during a rally this week.
Democrats have hammered Trump over his recent comments about the group of female lawmakers, known as “the squad,” and the Democratic-led House voted Tuesday night to formally rebuke the remarks as racist.
The White House has not officially declared any plans for the president to attend the 400th anniversary event in Jamestown, which Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump telling aides to look at potential spending cuts if he wins reelection: report Budget talks between White House, Pelosi spill into weekend Trump says he won’t watch Mueller testimony MORE (D-Calif.) was also invited to attend, organizers said. The invitation was extended by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and two Republican state lawmakers.
“The invitations were extended jointly by Governor Northam, Speaker [Kirk] Cox [R], and Senator [Tommy] Norment [R] last year. Speaker Pelosi’s office declined the invitation within the last two weeks. The White House has made no announcement regarding the President’s plans,” American Evolution, which is putting on the event, said in a statement Saturday.
The July 30 event marks the 400th anniversary of “representative government in America,” the statement noted. Both Trump and Pelosi were invited “to participate in commemorative ceremonies” for the event, organizers said.
The ceremonies mark the 400th anniversary of the first meeting of the House of Burgesses, a legislative body created in Jamestown in 1619 to oversee issues surrounding the colony.
The Virginia Democrats’ rebuke of Trump referenced the chant of “send her back” that erupted during the president’s rally in North Carolina this week in the middle of his diatribe against Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarBiden compares Trump to George Wallace Padma Lakshmi on Trump’s handling of ‘send her back’ chant: ‘It’s Charlottesville 2.0’ Trump defends response to rally chant: I did not ‘lead people on’ MORE (D-Minn.), a naturalized U.S. citizen who came to the country as a refugee from Somalia.
The president first sparked controversy when he said Omar and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezMichelle Obama weighs in on Trump, ‘Squad’ feud: ‘Not my America or your America. It’s our America’ Trump steps up attacks on ‘Squad’ Trump says he doesn’t care if attacks on ‘Squad’ hurt him politically MORE (D-N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyBiden compares Trump to George Wallace Padma Lakshmi on Trump’s handling of ‘send her back’ chant: ‘It’s Charlottesville 2.0’ Trump defends response to rally chant: I did not ‘lead people on’ MORE (D-Mass.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibBiden compares Trump to George Wallace Padma Lakshmi on Trump’s handling of ‘send her back’ chant: ‘It’s Charlottesville 2.0’ Trump defends response to rally chant: I did not ‘lead people on’ MORE (D-Mich.) should “go back” to “the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” The three lawmakers other than Omar were born in the U.S., and four are citizens.
The House formally condemned the remarks as racist in a 240-187 vote on Tuesday as Democrats seized on the controversy. Republicans expressed frustration about the remarks but mostly avoided directly criticizing the president.
The controversy was renewed Wednesday night with the chant against Omar. Though Trump disavowed the chant Thursday, saying he “was not happy with it,” he later said the chanters “love our country” and called them “patriots.”