Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) defended President Donald Trump on Thursday after the president came under fire for telling the so-called Squad to “go back” to whence they came.
“Here’s what I think. I think the president is playing on the 1968 ‘Love it or Leave it’ [slogan],” Graham said, referring to the phrase that was made popular by Vietnam War supporters after opponents protested with anti-American demonstrations such as the burning of the American flag.
“I’ve said before, that if you’re a Somali refugee wearing a MAGA hat, he doesn’t want to send you back — you’ll probably have dinner at the White House,” he continued. “What does that tell me? It is about the criticism and the critic, that the president believes that what they’re doing is over the top.”
Trump has been involved in an ongoing heated exchanged with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), collectively referred to as the “Squad,” over the past week.
The president received widespread criticism when he tweeted that the four freshman congresswomen should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” While three members of the “Squad” were born in the United States, Omar came to America as a Somali refugee.
“We’re not running concentration camps, so when you start accusing people of running concentration camps who work for the United States government, you’re going to be met with some pretty fiery responses,” Graham said, harkening back to a claim made by Ocasio-Cortez in June.
After comparing illegal immigrant detention facilities to Nazi concentration camps, the New York congresswoman faced massive backlash for the historical inaccuracies and insensitivity to the millions of Jews who perished during the Holocaust. Ocasio-Cortez doubled down on the claim and both Omar and Tlaib endorsed the comparison.
“I don’t like it. I’m not going around telling anybody to leave the country who is an American citizen,” Graham told reporters. “To a naturalized citizen — this is your home as much as it is mine.”
Graham, however, has been an outspoken critic of the “Squad,” referring to the quartet as “communist” lawmakers who hate America.
“We all know that [Ocasio-Cortez] and this crowd are a bunch of communists. They hate Israel, they hate our own country, they’re calling guards along our border — the Border Patrol agents — concentration camp guards,” Graham said on Monday while appearing on “Fox & Friends.”
“They talk about the state of Israel as if they’re a bunch of thugs, not victims of the entire region. They wanted to impeach President Trump on day one,” he continued. “They are socialist, they’re anti-Semitic, they stand for all the things that most Americans disagree with.”
Omar and Tlaib became America’s first Muslim congresswomen when sworn into office in January. Along with Ocasio-Cortez, the three progressive lawmakers have been embroiled in allegations of anti-Semitism and anti-American sentiments even prior to taking office.
“Make them the face of the Democratic Party and you will destroy the Democratic Party,” Graham added during his appearance on “Fox & Friends.”