House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday joined public criticism of Donald Trump’s weekend tweet against Hillary Clinton, which included an image of Clinton and a Star of David created by a racist Twitter user and first posted on a white-supremacist website.
“Look, anti-Semitic images, they’ve got no place in a presidential campaign,” Ryan said in an interview with WTMJ’s Charlie Sykes. “Candidates should know that. The tweet’s been deleted. I don’t know what flunky put this up there. They’ve obviously got to fix that. We’ve got to get back to the issues that matter to the public.”
Saying he has no time commenting on every Trump tweet, Ryan advised his party’s presumptive presidential nominee to “clean up the way his new media works.”
“I think he’s got to clean this up,” Ryan repeated.
Trump’s social media director Dan Scavino took blame for the tweet on Monday, but claimed he thought it was a sheriff’s star not a Star of David. “For the MSM to suggest that I am anti-Semite is awful,” Scavino tweeted Tuesday morning. “I proudly celebrate holidays with my wife’s amazing Jewish family for the past 16 years.”
Campaign surrogates on Tuesday pointed to Trump’s Jewish daughter and son-in-law and connection with the Jewish community to defuse growing angst of Trump’s candidacy. “I’m going to side with Dan Scavino, who’s married to a Jewish woman, and Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump on this,” Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser and pollster for the Trump campaign, said on CNN’s “New Day” morning program. “They know the full measure of a man and we all know that Mr. Trump opened up his club in Florida to Jewish members for the first time. That’s much more important in my view in measuring the way someone looks at people.”
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, appearing on CNN earlier in the morning, cited Trump’s “long and storied history” of leading a “parade,” employing Jews as senior executives at his organization, and supporting Israel as evidence the tweet was not intended to be anti-Semitic. “He has a 30-year history of supporting the people of Israel,” said Lewandowsky.
But the Anti-Defamation League refused to let Trump’s ties to the Jewish community overshadow the incident. “Donald Trump should stop playing the blame game and accept that his campaign tweeted an image with obvious anti-Semitic overtones and that, reportedly, was lifted from a white supremacist website,” the ADL said in a statement Monday night. “It’s long past time for Trump to unequivocally reject the hate-filled extremists orbiting around his campaign and take a stand against anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hate.”
Trump’s conduct also underlined his chaotic campaign strategy and failure to seize opportunities to put Clinton on the offensive.
“Even if you don’t believe that Trump is a racist you get the feeling that he condones racists,” Michael Fragin, a New York-based GOP consultant, told Jewish Insider. “But the real problem politically is that Trump was given a campaign gift this weekend with Clinton being questioned by the FBI and he squandered the opportunity and lost the news cycle because he continues to be impulsive and undisciplined.”