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GOP senators distance themselves from Trump’s ‘poisoning’ immigration comments

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Republican senators are distancing themselves from former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric used over the weekend that immigrants are “poisoning the blood of our country,” a comment President Joe Biden’s campaign has likened to those of Adolf Hitler.

“I obviously don’t agree with that. I mean, we’re all children of immigrants,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a member of Republican leadership, in a brief interview.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) echoed that he “certainly wouldn’t have said that,” and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) called it “unhelpful rhetoric.” Others like Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) declined to directly comment on the remarks.

The modest pushback — no senators called for Trump to walk the comments back or apologize — is reminiscent of the tack Republicans took back during the years of Trump’s presidency, when incendiary comments became somewhat of a norm. GOP senators would commonly say they hadn’t seen Trump’s comments on social media or the campaign trail, or say they disagreed with them and leave it at that.

“Looks like I’m looking forward to another year of answering these questions,” Young said, sarcastically.

Meanwhile, House GOP lawmakers heavily criticized some university presidents’ refusal to unequivocally condemn calls for the “genocide of Jews” as a violation of their schools’ code of conduct during a recent hearing. Those comments have led to the resignation of University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill, criticism from Second gentleman Doug Emhoff and calls for others to step aside. Democrats have largely refrained from coming to the defense of the presidents following the comments.

Democrats, of course, were quick to condemn Trump’s comments during a New Hampshire rally.

“He can speak for himself and he reminds the American people why he not only should be president, but why he’s spending so much time in the court these days,” said Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.).

Katherine Tully-McManus contributed.