BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP)–Maryland’s top Republican candidate in the 2016 election speaks out about Donald Trump after controversial comments made about a Mexican-American judge.
Donald Trump drew a crowd of cheering supporters at a campaign stop in Hagerstown several weeks ago. Now, he’s drawing criticism from his own party here and across the country for this remark about federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing a lawsuit on Trump University.
“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater,” Trump said. “He’s a member of a club or society very strongly pro Mexican which is fine, but I say he’s got bias. I want to build a wall, build a wall.”
Republican Kathy Szeliga, who’s running for U.S. Senate in Maryland takes to Facebook saying, “Mr. Trump’s statement with regard to Judge Curiel is insulting to all Americans. My own daughter-in-law is of Mexican descent. To say that anyone’s ethnic background should disqualify them from public service of any kind, particularly a judge who has sworn an oath to uphold the constitution of the United States, is, by definition, a racist statement.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, the leading Republican in the House, used similar language, calling Trump’s comment the textbook definition of a racist comment.
“I don’t know what’s in his heart, but I think that comment is defined that way,” said Ryan. “So I’m not going to defend these kind of comments because they are indefensible.”
Former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich tells WJZ many Republicans agree that the comments were inappropriate.
“I don’t care what you look like, I don’t care where you come from, your race, your ethnicity, your religion should not be a predictor of your public opinion,” he said.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came to trump’s defense.
“There are always going to be conflicts regarding civil lawsuits. People are always going to express their opinions. Those are Donald’s opinions and he has the right to express them.”
Trump asserted that his comments were being “misconstrued” but did not back down or apologize for saying repeatedly that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel could not preside fairly over a case involving Trump University because of his Mexican heritage.
“I do not feel that one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but, based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial,” Trump said in a lengthy statement that repeated his claims that students at Trump University, far from being fleeced as some claim and as evidence suggests, were overwhelmingly satisfied.