MANCHESTER -- In the wake of President Donald Trump's controversial tweets about four minority congresswomen, one local Republican candidate decried Trump's comments while others avoided direct criticism of the President.
Gov. Chris Sununu, a two-term Republican, said the controversy reveals how nasty the discourse in Washington has become.
Trump has been under fire for what some describe as "racist'' comments on Twitter. He wrote that four female U.S. Representatives, all women of color, should "go back'' to the countries they came from.
Trump's comments targeted congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.; Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.
Three of the four women were born in the U.S. The fourth, Omar, came to this country as a Somali refugee at 10 and became a U.S. citizen in 2000 at age 17.
Trump denies that his Tweets were racist stating, "I don't have a racist bone in my body."
As the U.S. House of Representatives was poised to vote Tuesday on a resolution condemning Trump's tweets, Trump questioned why Congress is not rebuking the four instead. (See related story, Page B1.)
Sununu said the entire climate in the nation's capital is "toxic" and New Hampshire stands out as a place where those from both political parties work together and don't make it personal.
"I think everything coming out of Washington, D.C., is pretty toxic and offensive, and the American people are fed up with it. As elected officials, we have to get stuff done, work together, be respectful of one another and across the board I think Washington has just dropped the ball over the last couple of years in a variety of ways and different areas," Sununu said during an interview Tuesday afternoon.
"This is where we do it a little differently here in New Hampshire. We try to work across the aisle; we don't make personal attacks and we don't engage in the toxic narrative because at the end of the day we've got a job to do."
Sununu said there's plenty of blame to spread around for the negativity in Washington.
"Of course. I unfortunately have to go down to Washington every once in a while and I've met with senators and House reps and the President and his administration and we're able to get a lot done but almost every time I am out of there before I have to spend the night," Sununu said.
"There's a reason for that. It's a toxic place. I'm a positive person and I think New Hampshire is a positive place. We like to look at the positive side of things."
And actions of the Democratically-controlled U.S. House to debate an anti-Trump resolution only add to the problem, he added.
"It's not helpful. It doesn't work to rebuild bridges in a constructive manner and that's where the focus needs to be," Sununu said.
State Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, was a veteran affairs adviser to Trump during the 2016 campaign and started a Facebook conversation on the topic Monday with, "I agree (with Trump). What say you?"
"If you disagree with a Democrat, you're a racist! They been dividing our country for years, nothing new here," Baldasaro posted.
Tom Rath advised several Republican presidential contenders here and served as the state's attorney general.
"It is not just that POTUS' comments are racist per se but even more that they reveal his core lack of understanding. ... We are not great in spite of our diversity, but rather we are great because of it -- that is why God has shed his grace on us, all of us," Rath tweeted.
Nashua Republican Steve Negron, who is challenging Democrat Congresswoman Annie Kuster, told the Union Leader, he doesn't share the same political philosophy or the views on the role of government as the four congresswomen, but took a hard line on Trump's tweets.
"I do not think anyone, including our elected officials, should be criticized or denounced because of their faith, religious beliefs or the color of their skin. There is no place for any kind of racism in America," he wrote.
Stratham Republican Don Bolduc, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, in 2020, said, "I'm not going to speak for the President. Do I agree with everything the President says? Of course not. ... It's time we all look in the mirror and ask ourselves what should we be doing to move our country forward. That's the question we should be asking.''
In a letter to the N.H. GOP and the Belknap County GOP on Tuesday, member Hunter Taylor announced he was changing his political affiliation from Republican to independent, and resigning as a member of both GOP organizations.
The Republican Party, under Trump's leadership has "completely abandoned its traditional conservative values, evolving into a cult of personality that embraces bigotry in this country and tyranny abroad. Factual data and truth have been replaced by unhinged tweets. ...''
Arnie Alpert is the New Hampshire program coordinator for the American Friends Services Committee, which has led protests against Trump's immigration policies.
"This is classic nativism and racism; what else to say," Alpert began. "Trying to discern his motives is beyond my capacity."
While reaction to these tweets has been strong, Alpert said no one should be surprised Trump would issue them.
"I do think it's fair to say especially as we are looking at his attitude toward immigrants and asylum seekers it fits into this notion that his approach is dehumanizing against people who come from other places. That's the attitude he has reflected since the beginning of his presidential campaign," Alpert said.
"People are being treated as less than human; people are held in cages rather than treated with respect."