By Lisa Mascaro / Tribune Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not name President Donald Trump in a statement on Wednesday, but clearly sought to distance the Republican Party from the White House’s position on white supremacists.
“We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred,” McConnell said in statement.
“There are no good neo-Nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head.”
Organizers of the Charlottesville, Va., white nationalist rally that erupted in violence over the weekend are planning another event in Lexington, Ky., challenging the majority leader in his home state.
Further rallies threaten to deepen the schism in the GOP between Trump, who has sought to defend some of those who participated in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, and Republicans who are reeling from the spectacle of the party of Lincoln being connected with known hate groups.
The issue may also be more personal for McConnell, whose Taiwan-born wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, was beside Trump as his infrastructure news conference Tuesday erupted in a fiery defense of some of those marching Saturday.
“White supremacist, KKK, and neo-Nazi groups who brought hatred and violence to Charlottesville are now planning a rally in Lexington,” McConnell said. “Their messages of hate and bigotry are not welcome in Kentucky and should not be welcome anywhere in America.”
McConnell did not directly criticize Trump, perhaps hesitant to launch a full-scale confrontation with the president or alienate his supporters.