Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago dinner last week with Kanye West and white supremacist Nick Fuentes — both known for making antisemitic comments — has drawn mixed reactions from Republicans so far.
Some like Sen. Bill Cassidy denounced Trump’s “immoral” attitude to hosting “racist antisemites. Former vice president Mike Pence called for Trump to apologize, while Sen. Ted Cruz instead redirected his ire to a eulogy Joe Biden gave 11 years ago at the funeral of a Democratic senator who was a Ku Klux Klan member in the 1940s.
Here’s how Republican politicians have responded to the dinner:
Sen. Bill Cassidy
The Louisiana senator slammed Trump for hosting “racist antisemites” saying it was “immoral.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence
Pence, who is mulling a run for president against Trump in 2024, told NewsNation that he thinks Trump should apologize for hosting West and Fuentes, but added that he doesn’t believe Trump is an antisemite.
“And he should denounce those individuals and their hateful rhetoric without qualification,” Pence told Leland Vittert, the host of NewsNation’s On Balance. “With that being said... I don’t believe Donald Trump is an antisemite.”
Pence added that Trump “demonstrated profoundly poor judgment in giving those individuals a seat at the table.”
Sen. Ted Cruz
The Texas senator did not directly comment on Trump’s decision to dine with Fuentes, but called for Democrats instead to criticize President Joe Biden over a eulogy he gave at the funeral of Robert Byrd 11 years ago.
Byrd, a former Democratic senator, was an active member of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s, which he later renounced.
Sen. Susan Collins
Collins told NBC News that Trump should not even have met Fuentes and that she condemns “white supremacy and anti-semitism.”
Gov. Asa Hutchinson
The Arkansas governor told CNN that it was “very troubling” for Trump to meet with an “avowed racist or anti-Semite.”
“No, I don’t think it’s a good idea for a leader that’s setting an example for the country or the party to meet with [an] avowed racist or anti-Semite. And so it’s very troubling and it shouldn’t happen and we need to avoid … empowering the extremes,” Hutchinson said Sunday, adding, “You want to diminish their strength, not empower them. Stay away from it.”
Hutchinson also said that while he hoped politicians would one day not need to respond to things Trump has said or done, “in this instance, it’s important to respond.”
Gov. Brian Kemp
Referring to Trump’s dinner with Fuentes, the Georgia governor told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that “racism, antisemitism and denial of the Holocaust have no place in the Republican Party and are completely un-American.”
The Georgia senate contender declined to comment about the dinner, the AJC reported.