Seventy-two hours after Charlottesville, your cable news focus of the day is likely to be on whether President Donald Trump will personally attach his name to a condemnation of white supremacy.
His Tweet topics so far this morning: An endorsement of U.S. Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama, and a condemnation of “obstructionist” Democrats.
On Saturday, Trump condemned “many sides” for the violence at the University of Virginia that had begun with a torch parade by white nationalists on Friday night. An unnamed White House spokesperson tried to fend off criticism on Sunday with this interpretation, according to the New York Times:
“The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred,” the statement said. “Of course that includes white supremacists, K.K.K. neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”
Ivanka Trump also seemed to urge her father in that direction.
Nonetheless, Trump’s re-election campaign thought the timing was right on Sunday to unveil a new TV spot. “The president’s enemies don’t want him to succeed,” is the money line.
The maker of a brand of backyard torches denounced the use of its products by those white supremacists in Charlottesville, according to The Hill newspaper.
And an American tourist in Germany was beaten up Saturday by a passer-by after he began giving the Nazi salute outside a cafe in Dresden, according to the Washington Post. The tourist was identified as a 41-year-old American man who was “severely drunk.”
Meanwhile, a number of conservatives sought to put some distance between themselves and President Trump over Charlottesville. Erick Erickson, of WSB Radio fame, had an op-ed in the New York Times that included these lines:
Racial superiority is a repugnant idea and President Trump should condemn it by name. We should also note honestly that President Trump employs individuals who emboldened this movement. The president winked at and made kissy face with the alt-right as his advisers persuaded him it would be good politically. It is no coincidence that many of the men who marched in Charlottesville wore “Make America Great Again” hats. This president and his advisers made a nefarious evil feel comfortable coming out of the shadows.
On that same note, state Sen. Michael Williams, R-Cumming, who is running for governor on a pro-Trump platform, veered sharply from the president’s line that “many sides” were to blame for the deadly violence that rocked the Virginia city:
“I strongly condemn the actions of Vanguard America; their message of white supremacy, and their use of bigotry and hatred to divide our citizens. My condemnation is not limited to Vanguard, but also hateful racists such as Richard [Spencer] and his followers.”
As Charlottesville was unfolding on Saturday, state Rep. Stacey Evans of Smyrna, one of two Democratic women running for governor, was shouted down at a national NetRoots Nation convention in Atlanta by protestors shouting “support black women.”
Evans is white. Her rival, state Rep. Stacey Abrams of Atlanta, is black. Click here to read the speech she intended to deliver.
Don’t kid yourself. This is serious business for a Georgia Democratic party looking to make a come-back.
Melita Easters, leader of Georgia’s WIN List, which supports the political campaigns of Democratic women, pointed to an Oct. 2 forum featuring the two candidates:
“Our event will offer a respectful platform where both women will have equal time to share their progressive vision for Georgia and be heard. At a time when divisive rhetoric dominates headlines, Republicans would like nothing more than to see a contest between two women divide Georgia progressives.”
One of Abram’s strongest supporters, state Sen. Nan Orrock of Atlanta, defended her candidate’s refusal to condemn the shouting down of a rival. From Orrock’s Facebook page:
“When protesters interrupted Bernie Sanders during the 2015 election, Hillary Clinton was not asked to answer for them, and was not accused of organizing or paying them. So why is Stacey Abrams expected to disavow a protest she did not organize? Whether you disagree with their actions or not, please understand that protestors make their own decisions to exercise the right to independently organize and act, particularly at a progressive conference for activists…Evans should expect to be challenged on her record as long as she stays in this race, but don’t blame that on her opponent.
North Georgia Republicans had an early say at their picks for the state’s top offices at a straw poll in Rome, and three candidates came out on top in the Floyd County GOP straw poll: Hunter Hill for governor; David Shafer for lieutenant governor; and Josh McKoon for secretary of state.
Hill also was the top vote-getter the same day in the Georgia Republican Assembly’s annual meeting in Moreland, Ga., though he fell short of the threshold needed for endorsement.
Shafer, McKoon and Insurance Commissioner candidate Jim Beck all got the two-thirds votes needed for the endorsement.
The weekend turmoil has nearly overshadowed a first in-person town hall meeting hosted by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson at 6 p.m. this evening at Kennesaw State University. Background can be found here. The senator will be on GPB’s “Political Rewind” (88.5FM in Atlanta) at 2 p.m.
Isakson has been careful not to criticize Trump, offering carefully-worded support mainly from afar and otherwise staying out of the president’s way. On Friday, he made an exception. Via Twitter, the three-term U.S. senator came down firmly on the side of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who has recently drawn Trump’s Twitter ire:
Speaking of Mitch McConnell’s Senate, it looks like it’ll have to fill another Georgia vacancy. Our AJC colleague Bill Rankin reports that one of the state’s members of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is planning to enter a state of semi-retirement, which gives Trump an opportunity to shape the powerful federal court, which has jurisdiction over Georgia, Florida and Alabama.