HARTFORD, CT — (Updated 5 p.m.) Middletown Mayor Dan Drew gathered about 75 people Thursday on the steps of the state Capitol in Hartford to denounce Republican President Donald Trump’s comments following the events in Charlottesville.
On Tuesday, Trump said “I think there’s blame on both sides” for the violence of Charlottesville. Trump even went so far as to say that there were “very fine people” at the white power rally.
“There can be no equivocation. There can be no hedging,” Drew told the crowd. “If there is, we do ourselves and all of those we care about a disservice by pretending that what’s happening now, and who is doing it, is something other than what it actually is.”
Drew continued: “This is a moment of hate, led by a man of hate. The president of the United States, by making the moral equivalency between the Nazis and the klan members in Charlottesville and the people standing up for justice, did us a great disservice.”
He said the president revealed himself not just as someone who condones white supremacy, “but as someone who is himself, a white supremacist.”
Drew, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018 and is head of the Connecticut Conference for Democratic Mayors, said opposing Nazis and opposing the klan “should be a bipartisan issue.”
Many Connecticut Republicans have denounced the statements made by Trump, including Connecticut Republican Party Chairman JR Romano.
“Republicans must come with us in denouncing hate and Nazism,” Drew said.
Connecticut Republican Party Chairman JR Romano said there’s no place for Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, racism, and hatred in America, but he thinks there needs to be a conversation about “violent clashes between extremist groups.”
He said he doesn’t assign every belief held by the “Antifa” to Blumenthal or U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and he’s sick of the Democratic Party assigning every thing Trump says or believes to the Republican Party. He said former President Barack Obama wasn’t held responsible for violence committed in the name of the members of the Black Lives Matters movement.
He said the attempt to paint him and the Connecticut Republican Party as racist is nothing more than a “political distraction. It’s sad, they’re trying to capitalize on the loss of someone’s life.”
Romano was referring to Heather Heyers, who was run over by a motor vehicle during the counter-protest, and the two police officers who were killed in a helicopter crash responding to the rallies.
“It’s time we start talking about love, community and respect for people and we use that to measure them on the content of their character,” Romano added.
But Connecticut Democratic Party Executive Director Michael Mandell said “J.R. Romano and Connecticut Republicans are using ‘alt-right’ talking points, passed down from the White House, to defend a president who has shown his true white supremacist colors in recent days. I want to be very, very clear: There is no comparison between peaceful protesters seeking racial justice and violent, murderous racists.”
State Rep. Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire, questioned why Republicans didn’t attend Thursday’s rally, which was posted on Facebook around 9 p.m. Wednesday night.
The crowd chanted “Shame, shame!”
Linehan and Drew admitted that no Republicans officials were invited to the event.
“This was a public event,” Drew said.
Linehan said she didn’t invite any of the people who showed up for the rally.
At an unrelated event Thursday afternoon, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Republicans “should repudiate what the president has said and continues to say.”
He said he wants to know why Republicans aren’t entering this conversation.
Any Democrat or Republican “who stands on the sidelines is complicit,” Malloy said. “You can’t sit on the sidelines.”
He called it a seminal moment in history.
“You can support the president on policy, you can’t support him on hate,” Malloy added.