WASHINGTON – Republican Rep. Steve Pearce and Democratic Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham often disagree on policy in Washington, and on Friday they parted ways again – this time over President Donald Trump’s latest controversial remarks.
According to the Washington Post, Trump reportedly asked members of Congress in a private meeting over immigration why the U.S. accepts so many immigrants from “shithole” countries. He was referring to several nations including El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras and some African nations in the context of people who live in the U.S. under what is known as Temporary Protected Status as a result of natural disasters at home.
Afterward, Pearce and Lujan Grisham, who are seeking their party’s nominations in the 2018 New Mexico governor’s race, each issued statements on the matter. Pearce also addressed the issue on a New Mexico radio show Friday morning.
Lujan Grisham said Thursday night that the president’s comment was “shameful, abhorrent, unpresidential, and deserves our strongest condemnation.”
“We must use our voices to ensure that our nation never returns to the days when ignorance, prejudice, and racism dictated our decision making,” she said.
Pearce’s statement released Friday morning said, “It is not appropriate to disparage anyone based on where they come from. We are a nation of values and should act with respect towards others.
“We need to remain focused on fixing our nation’s broken immigration system so that people from all walks of life can achieve their vision of the American dream.”
But Pearce later said the furor over his comments was hypocritical in a town where such language is often used during private meetings.
In his interview on KKOB radio Friday morning, Pearce said, “The language should have been something different.” But he otherwise downplayed the statement, suggesting that he would prefer to stay “focused on the issues.”
“First of all, we knew exactly who he was,” Pearce told KKOB of Trump. “The Democrats made it very obvious in the campaign. There was no stone left unturned, every crude thing that had been said. Now, myself, I go and I talk to the Republican congressmen and women from New York and I just say, ‘What’s going on here?’
“And they say, ‘Oh, he’s one of those Queens guys’ – it’s like one of those Lea County guys – you know, that’s just the way they are. They just talk like that. They just do stuff like that. And they said they’re combative. Everybody in Queens is that way.”
Pearce, who is not one to use foul language himself – at least not around reporters – said salty talk is the norm behind closed doors on Capitol Hill.
“Frankly, almost every bipartisan group I sit in behind the scenes sounds very much like that anyway,” Pearce said. “So, it’s as if we’re finding this religious fervor in public, but the same people who are criticizing would probably do and say very similar stuff.”