Baker knocks MassGOP for condemning congresswomen

'I don't think they should have done it'


THE RIFT BETWEEN the Republican governor and the state Republican party was on full display Thursday when Gov. Charlie Baker denounced the Republican State Committee’s adoption this week of a resolution condemning two Muslim women who serve in Congress.

On Tuesday night, the Massachusetts Republican State Committee voted “overwhelming” to support a resolution to officially criticize Democratic US Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and to declare that the Massachusetts Republican Party supports the state of Israel, the party said. A party spokesman said the resolution was approved by a voice vote.

The resolution, which was put forward by committee members Tom Mountain and Marty Lamb, takes issue with the congresswomen allegedly having “aligned themselves with the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas” and for leading “the charge in Congress to end US aid to our prime ally Israel, while openly advocating for the destruction of that nation,” along with five other points of contention.

Baker has had a strained relationship with the state Republican Party since Jim Lyons took over in January as party chair and said on WGBH’s “Boston Public Radio” that the committee’s resolution “does exactly the wrong thing with respect to what we should be trying to do with public dialogue generally.”

“First of all, I’ve tried pretty hard as a public official to stay out of what I would describe as the name-calling business. I don’t really think it accomplishes very much and I think it degrades public discourse,” Baker said. “In this particular case, while I probably don’t agree a lot with either of those congresswomen, they were duly elected by the people of their districts and that’s who they’re accountable to.”

The governor added that, based on something he had read, “a bunch of the allegations in the thing that the party put out were not accurate or turned out not to be accurate, so I don’t think they should have done it.”

The MassGOP declined to comment on Baker’s comments.

After telling a story about the speech the imam from the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center gave at a vigil for the victims of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pennsylvania last year, the governor said that it has become too common in public life for people to “stop treating other people as human beings and start to treat them as caricatures.”

Co-host Jim Braude asked Baker whether President Donald Trump, whom Baker did not support in 2016 and often disagrees with, has elevated that to an art form.

“Yeah, sure,” Baker said.

Both congresswomen condemned by the Republican State Committee this week have also been on the receiving end of Trump’s tweets. In July, the president used Twitter to respond to four outspoken women of color in Congress — Tlaib, Omar, and Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — who have been frequent critics of him and his administration, writing that they “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe…”

The president went on to tweet that they should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Trump later suggested that the congresswomen “hate” America and Israel.

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Baker in July denounced the president’s Twitter attacks.

“The tweets were shameful and racist and there’s no place for them in public discourse,” he said.