Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock (VA-10) is leading the delegation in a series of sharp, unequivocal condemnations of Donald Trump’s recent comments banning all Muslims from entering the United States, piling on to what has been near universal and national condemnation from just about every quarter of the Republican Party.
Comstock’s comments were made on The John Fredericks Show earlier this morning (which are no longer posted, but helpfully we have a screencapture):
These comments followed statements by Rep. Robert Hurt (VA-05) condemning Trump’s remarks:
— John Fredericks (@jfradioshow) December 8, 2015
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) commented moments later in a strong condemnation of Donald Trump and a vocal defense of American pluralism and conservatism — to the point of re-iterating the salient point: “This is not conservatism…”
Good on Comstock and Hurt for being strong, right, and first.
Update (Rollin Reisinger) – 5:56 PM:
In response to the growing controversy, Virginia’s Republican leaders have begun to weigh in Trump’s remarks and immigration policy as a whole.
Ed Gillespie, who is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2017, related the ongoing controversy to his own experience as the son of an Irish immigrant who came to America in search of opportunity. Gillespie said:
“My father came to this country from Ireland. There was a time in our nation’s history when Catholics were not always welcome, and had to overcome anti-Catholic sentiment. But we are blessed to live in a country where freedom of religion is a founding principle, one drafted here in Virginia, and where there is not a religion test for who can come here. President Obama has sadly failed to effectively lead our nation in a time of uncertainty and danger, and we must take every step necessary to defeat the global terrorist threat, secure our homeland and ensure that those coming into the United States pose absolutely no danger to Americans no matter their religion. That’s why we need strong new conservative leadership in this country. But we must take those steps without forsaking the principles that make this the greatest nation the world has ever known.”
Congressman Dave Brat (VA-7) also responded to Bearing Drift, relaying his concerns regarding comments running afoul of the constitutional and legal traditions at the heart of America’s political system. While Brat declined to weigh in on any specific candidate, his concern for foundational principles was clear, as he remarked:
“While I refrain from commenting on the presidential race, I believe that we need to be very careful when candidates make statements that run counter to the Constitution. Some comments I have seen in the media regarding the treatment of Muslims run afoul of our legal traditions. Several bills in Congress this year already would protect us against radical Islamist terrorists, but critically these bills also adhere to the Constitutional principles that treat all American citizens as individuals with equal rights and protection under the law. All of our freedoms enshrined in the Constitution are what make our country great, and we can protect our homeland’s safety and security without violating the individual liberty our founders were so careful to enshrine.”
Fourth District Republican Chairman Jack Wilson added his thoughts to the growing Republican consensus denouncing Trump’s remarks, commenting:
“I found his comments antithetical to the values we share as Republicans and Americans. His appeal to the baser instincts of a segment of our electorate is just the opposite of Ronald Reagan who always appealed to our highest ideals.”
The responses thus far from Virginia’s Republican leaders largely echo those of national GOP leaders. Earlier today, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus made his disagreement with Trump’s comments known in an interview with the Washington Examiner, stating:
“I don’t agree,” Priebus said. “We need to aggressively take on radical Islamic terrorism but not at the expense of our American values.”
Additional statements from Virginia’s Republican leaders will be posted as they become available.
Update x2 (Rollin Reisinger) – 6:42 PM:
John Whitbeck, Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, joined other state GOP chairs in making his disagreement with Trump’s remarks known, telling Bearing Drift:
“I do not agree. The real issue we need to focus on is the Obama-Clinton foreign policy disaster that has made America less safe and vulnerable to terrorist attack.”
Congressman Scott Rigell (VA-2) joined his House colleagues Barbara Comstock, Robert Hurt, and Dave Brat in condemning Trump’s remarks. In a statement provided to Bearing Drift, Rigell communicated his position in detail, stating:
“It is clear to the rational mind that the imminent terrorist threat facing our country – both at home and abroad – is found almost exclusively within minority sects of the Muslim faith. Therefore, and unfortunately, sharply higher scrutiny of all Muslims seeking to enter the United States is warranted. In countries like Syria, where records to establish patterns of past behavior and predict future behavior do not exist, a complete prohibition on entry to the United States is in order. Individuals of the Muslim faith should, however, be allowed entry when records exists that prove the individual’s beliefs, values, and demonstrated personal conduct are consistent with freedom, including the expressed rejection of Sharia Law, and the support of equal rights for all.
“While I support a reduction in the number of immigrants coming from Muslim nations, to ensure proper assimilation, the complete ban proposed by Donald Trump is reckless and an affront to our core values. To the extent his proposal gets traction, it is detrimental to our nation. Specifically, it damages our American “brand,” built over generations, that we are a people who choose to tolerate differences. We are better than this as a nation, and to the extent Mr. Trump is a Republican, we are better than this as a party.”
Conservative Delegate David Ramadan also joined growing chorus of condemnation, telling Bearing Drift:
“Trump’s remarks are un-constitutional, un-American, and contrary to our conservative values. Trump’s moronic positions are damaging to our party and our great nation.”
Ramadan’s outspoken stand for inclusion within the Republican party echoes sentiments he shared with Bearing Drift last month in response to anti-religious bigotry directed against a place of worship in Spotslvania County.
Update x3 (J.R. Hoeft) – 4:00 PM (Dec. 9):
“Ill-conveceived policies like this simply aren’t consistent with the American values that we all cherish,” Pete Snyder, CEO of Disruptor Capital and an on-air contributor to The Fox News Channel and Fox Business.