SALT LAKE CITY — Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams cast Utah's only vote Tuesday for a U.S. House resolution condemning President Donald Trump for "racist comments" about a group of progressive minority congresswomen.
McAdams had joined Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Monday, in speaking out against Trump repeatedly telling the Democratic congresswomen to "go back" and fix their "crime-infested" homelands before being critical of the United States.
“Today was a frustrating day — Exhibit A of what is wrong with Washington. I found the president’s tweet to be offensive and beneath the dignity of the office he holds," McAdams said in a statement after the resolution was approved, 240-187.
"Divisiveness is wrong and distracts from our work for the American people. The more time we spend talking about offensive tweets and comments from politicians the less time we spend finding solutions to the nation’s serious problems," he said.
McAdams said he was "eager to get back to work doing what voters sent us here to do."
The rest of Utah's House members — Reps. Rob Bishop, Chris Stewart and John Curtis, all Republicans — voted against the resolution and stayed silent Monday and much of Tuesday, along with many others in the GOP.
But after the vote, Bishop, Stewart and Curtis issued a joint statement calling freedom of speech "a pillar of our democracy."
"We are not trying to censor President Trump or House Democrats. But, for the sake of not dividing our nation further, the inflammatory rhetoric needs to stop," their joint statement said.
"From claims that, 'Nancy Pelosi is a racist' to 'border agents are Nazis running concentration camps,' it has gotten out of control. This resolution and these social media wars do nothing to unify our country," the three congressmen said.
Instead, the debate over what's been said can "only take time and resources away from our true responsibility to get real legislative work done for the people of Utah," according to their statement.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has declined to weigh in on the controversy.
None of the offices for Utah's GOP congressmen responded earlier Tuesday when asked how they would vote on the resolution, which "strongly condemns President Donald Trump's racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color."
The resolution cites statements from the Founding Fathers to former presidents, including John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, in support of immigration and asylum as "a powerful national value" rather than a partisan cause.
Trump is saying immigrants, and those "who may look to the president like immigrants, should 'go back' to other countries" and "referring to immigrants and asylum-seekers as 'invaders,'" the resolution states.
The president is also suggesting some members of Congress do not belong there or even in the United States, according to the resolution, which does not name the four U.S. representatives he's targeted, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
McAdams raises $500K
McAdams, who won his seat by less than 700 votes from Republican Mia Love in the state's most competitive race last year, is likely facing a tough battle for reelection in 2020.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP's campaign arm, has made reclaiming Utah's 4th District seat a top priority and has actively recruited candidates since the start of the year.
The committee issued a news release titled "McAdams is deranged" after he joined other Democrats Tuesday in voting to allow House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to call the president's tweets "racist" despite a long-standing rule.
McAdams' campaign announced Tuesday he's raised more than $500,000 in the second quarter of 2019. The former Salt Lake County mayor now has nearly $644,000 in cash on hand, according to his Federal Election Commission filing.
The price tag for the McAdams-Love race in 2018 exceeded $10 million. Love has said she is ready to announce a rematch in the coming weeks if no Republican she deems strong enough gets in the race.
So far, she said, none of the candidates in the race meet her criteria, including Kathleen Anderson, who handled communications for the Utah GOP over the past two years when her husband, Rob, served as chairman.
Although Love reported just over $42,000 in cash on hand at the end of 2018, she told the Deseret News her fundraising network is primed and, "when I need to turn on that faucet, I'll turn it on."
Now a CNN commentator, Love, the first black Republican woman in Congress, was asked during a panel discussion on the cable news network if she saw Trump's statements as racist, but drew some criticism for stopping short of using the term.
"I am not going to get into whether he is racist," she said. "I don’t think that those comments help him. I don’t think that the comments help his narrative. I’m incredibly frustrated, I continue to be frustrated."
Another former Utah GOP member of Congress, Jason Chaffetz, was praised by Trump in a tweet Tuesday morning for saying, "If you come after the President, the Country, the Flag — he’s going to defend himself."
The president also included a plug to buy Chaffetz's second book, "Power Grab: The Liberal Scheme to Undermine Trump, the GOP, and Our Republic," due out in September, in his tweet.