Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., defended President Trump’s Fourth of July speech amid withering criticism from liberals – and an uneasy silence from some conservatives – that Trump’s speech was divisive instead of unifying.
Calling it “absolutely one of the best that he has given,” the Tennessee Republican on Sunday praised the president’s message for reminding “the American people and that we are unique.”
“I thought the speech was absolutely one of the best that he has given and how appropriate that he reminded the American people and that we are unique and that you can bet on hope or you can bet on fear,” Blackburn said during an interview on “Sunday Morning Futures.”
She added: “In this country, you have the ability to do whatever you want to do to dream. Those are big dreams and make them come true.”
Trump on Saturday vowed to “safeguard our values” from enemies within — leftists, looters, agitators, he said — in a Fourth of July speech packed with all the grievances and combativeness of his political rallies.
“We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and the people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing,” he said. “We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children.”
He added: “And we will defend, protect, and preserve (the) American way of life, which began in 1492 when Columbus discovered America.”
He did not mention the nearly 130,000 people who are known to have died from COVID-19 in the U.S.
While Blackburn offered vocal praise of Trump’s speech, many other Republicans have sought to distance themselves from the president’s rhetoric in his speech and a similar one on Friday at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.
Asked on Sunday during an appearance on CNN‘s “State of the Union” about Trump’s rhetoric, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, deflected and said there was a “great level of frustration across the United States all the way around.”
“We do have blemishes in our history and we need to come together and have some very hard discussions about our past,” she said. “The great thing about this nation is that we can learn from those blemishes, learn from those hard times in the past, and continue to evolve as a continually blessed nation.”
During his speech at Mount Rushmore, and later in an executive order, Trump put forward the idea of establishing a “National Garden of American Heroes” that will pay tribute to some of the most prominent figures in U.S. history, a collection of “the greatest Americans to ever live.”
The group of 30-plus features Founding Fathers and presidents, civil rights pioneers and aviation innovators, explorers, and generals. Absent from Trump’s initial list are any Native American, Hispanic or Asian-American individuals.
Trump on Saturday spoke glowingly about his selections as an “incredible group,” but also noted they “are just a few of the people” he is considering and “are subject to change.”
“But once we make that decision, those great names are going to be up there and they’re never coming down,” Trump said in a speech at his “Salute for America” celebration at the White House to mark Independence Day.
Trump in recent weeks has repeatedly condemned the desecration and toppling of historic statues by demonstrators during protests over racial injustice and police brutality following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
In her interview on Sunday, Blackburn praised the president’s idea – calling it “a great foundation.”
“Those of us that studied history and appreciate history can tick through that list and tell you something of significance that each of those individuals did or said that inspired us in some way,” she said. “So as they are putting this list together, I think it is really wonderful and how appropriate.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.