Updated at 8:50 p.m. ET
American political leaders reacted with outrage and condemnation on Saturday after violence erupted at a white nationalist march on the University of Virginia’s campus in Charlottesville.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency on Saturday morning at the request of Virginia State Police after Friday night skirmishes between hundreds of white nationalists and neo-Nazis who held a torchlit march at a controversial statute of Robert E. Lee on the university campus and dozens of counter-protesters.
Members of Congress denounced the violence on Saturday, which erupted at one of the highest profile white-nationalist events in more than a decade. “The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant,” Speaker Paul Ryan wrote on Twitter. “Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry.” Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, said the “hate and bigotry” espoused by the march’s participants “does not reflect American values.”
The hate and bigotry witnessed in #Charlottesville does not reflect American values. I wholeheartedly oppose their actions.— Leader McConnell (@SenateMajLdr) August 12, 2017
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer went further and demanded President Trump condemn the protests. “Of course we condemn ALL that hate stands for,” Schumer wrote on Twitter. “Until [the president] specifically condemns alt-right action in Charlottesville, he hasn’t done his job.” Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House leader, urged Americans more broadly to rebuke the protesters in Charlottesville.
Our nation is defined by the march of progress. Our strength lies in our diversity. We must reject hate. #Charlottesville— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) August 12, 2017
Trump, whose candidacy received enthusiastic support from far-right groups, also criticized the march. “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for,” he wrote on Twitter. “There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let’s come together as one!” In a subsequent tweet, the president said he was working at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey on veterans’ health care issues, adding, “but Charlottesville sad!”
We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
Am in Bedminster for meetings & press conference on V.A. & all that we have done, and are doing, to make it better-but Charlottesville sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
At a brief press appearance at Bedminster on Saturday, Trump said he condemned “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence, on many sides,” repeating the last phrase twice. He did not explicitly condemn white nationalists beyond his general remarks, and an anonymous White House official told reporters “the President was condemning hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all sides. There was violence between protestors and counter protestors today.”