In response to a Twitter thread, sent by President Donald Trump, in which he said “progressive” Democratic congresswomen should go back to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” the offices of the area’s two representatives – John Joyce and Glenn “G.T.” Thompson – emphasized their differences of opinion on issues with those legislators, rather than focusing on their races or locations of birth.

Trump did not mention any specific congresswomen by name, but the comments were taken as directed toward “The Squad” – Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, all women of color.

Many Democrats have criticized the president for making what they consider to be racist statements.

Andrew Romeo, a spokesman for Joyce, a Republican who represents the commonwealth’s 13th Congressional District that includes Johnstown, not only said the local legislator differs with the four women, but also cited an Axios.com article about members of “The Squad” and socialism polling poorly in a survey of 1,003 whites with two years or less of college education who were likely to vote in the general election.

“Rather than focus on where his colleagues are from, Congressman Joyce forms his opinions of his fellow House members based solely on the policies that they advocate for,” Romeo said. “Congressman Joyce believes that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of ‘the squad’ all support socialist, open borders, and anti-Semitic policies that are wrong for the country, and as exhibited by Axios’ reporting from the weekend, many Americans agree with that assessment.

“Congressman Joyce will continue to stand against the dangerous policies being put forward by this group, just like he did last week when he took to the House floor and helped defeat the Ocasio-Cortez amendment to restrict our military from helping secure the border.”

Thompson, a Centre County Republican from the 15th Congressional District, stated:

“Personal attacks are never a productive way to address policy differences or a vision for our country. While you’ll never hear me question the legitimacy of elected members to this institution, you will hear me loudly question the radical policies some are promoting. Make no mistake, socialism is state-sanctioned theft, plain and simple.”

On July 14, Trump said on Twitter:

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly......

“....and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how....

“....it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley and Tlaib are natural-born citizens of the United States, while Omar immigrated to the nation as a child.

“ ‘Go back to your own country’ is an ugly and deeply xenophobic sentiment rooted in the darkest periods of our history,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., a Democrat, said. “The fact that our president has used these words is beyond the pale. Once again, his words make us less safe.”

His colleague, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, expressed an opinion similar to the ones from Thompson and Joyce’s offices.

“President Trump was wrong to suggest that four left-wing congresswomen should go back to where they came from,” Toomey said.

“Three of the four were born in America, and the citizenship of all four is as valid as mine. I couldn’t disagree more with these congresswomen’s views on immigration, socialism, national security, and virtually every policy issue. But they are entitled to their opinions, however misguided they may be.

“We should defeat their ideas on the merits, not on the basis of their ancestry.”

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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