In a discussion about racism in the Republican party, panelist and Democratic strategist Angela Rye thanks former one-term Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) after he tells CNN’s Don Lemon that he believes President Trump has racist tendencies and apologizes for white privilege. (Full transcript below.)
Rye reached her emotional breaking point, after a 10-minute conversation on the ‘normalization’ of racism under the presidency of Donald Trump. Rye expressed frustration of being called a racist for calling out racism.
“I’m told every day I’m on air that I’m racist because I call out racism,” Rye said.
“That is maddening to me. And I’m crying about it because it’s crazy,” she said as tears began to flow from her eyes.
“That somebody who is a colleague of mine like [Republican strategist] Alice [Stewart] could at least acknowledge that fact,” Rye continued. “That is so frustrating. We’re supposed to be talking about a 12-year-old boy who was just trying to deliver newspaper and the police are calling him in Ohio where Tamir Rice was killed in the same age. I want to be acknowledged and see that this is not OK for our children. This is not OK for the future direction of this country. So, I want to say, I commend you for saying what you said. It means the world to me.”
“And the president has normalized it,” Jolly chimed in.
“We cannot continue to say that racism just surfaced. It’s been here. This country was built on that. We cannot turn our minds,” Rye concluded her commentary.
“Great point,” Jolly said several times in agreement while she spoke.
“We can’t forgive it. We can’t normalize it. We can’t suggest that he can be the figure of a party that we subscribe to. It’s heartbreaking. It is not an easy conversation. It sucks. Everything about it sucks. But, this is the president and he is the leader of the Republican Party and he continues to peddle what is very clearly racist tendencies,” the single-term Congressman declared.
“I just want to say, Congressman, like, I wish that the new members, the folks who have followed in your footsteps can at least acknowledge that. That’s all so many of us are saying. At this point, I’m emotional,” Rye said prior to the monologue that left her in tears.
Good evening, you guys saw Tom Foreman’s piece, just to remind you and our viewers and I think you need reminding, but (inaudible).
I want to take a look at some of the candidates again. These men have promoted some pretty terrible views and they’re on the ballot as Republicans. What is it Alice about our current political climate, that is bringing these candidates out of the wood works and stamping them with the label of GOP?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Don unfortunately it starts at the top. And we have a President that says thing that are outside of the norm, that have not been said before. And a lot of people have stood behind him in that regard. And that is where we are right now. The civility in Washington has gone down tremendously. That being said, the story we just saw and what we’re talking about, these are the dark side and the disturbing side.
Fortunately, it is not the majority of people in the Republican Party. And the Republican Party is the party of limited government and fiscal responsibility and ethical values and life and liberty. And these are the small majority of people, the Republican Party. And unfortunately, we are seeing more of them, but I’m grateful for the pact that it’s a small majority.
LEMON: OK, listen, look, I hope it is not the majority of the Republican Party, but the fact is that most of the Republican Party supported Trump who you just said is promoting this, whose emboldening people. I don’t want to disparage any party or I don’t want to cast versions on any group. But, it does seem that if you’re not racist, right? You’re at least overlooking it and you’re supporting it by, when you go to the ballot or — ballot, you know, ballot box and voting for these people, or by not denouncing it when your President espouses some of these views. Am I wrong in that assessment?
STEWART: No. Look, Don. I lost a lot of sleep over the last several years working for candidates that are men of honor and integrity and dignity. And unfortunately they were not the party’s nominee. And in the end I voted for someone that I viewed that would at least — the number one issue for me was Supreme Court justices. I worked really, really hard for candidates for our party that would bring dignity to the office. Unfortunately that was not the case and this is where we are today.
LEMON: OK. I want to get other people. I don’t mean to cut you off. David, did you want to say something?
DAVID JOLLY (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I do, I love Alice’s optimism, but I disagree very strongly and almost angrily with it. Because this is where Donald Trump has given permission to elements of the party that past nominees and past leaders of the Republican Party has shut down. Ronald Reagan spoke to the better angels, Bush 43 or Bush 41 to a thousand points of like. Frankly, Bill Clinton spoke to empathy, I feel your pain. Bush 43, too compassionate conservatism, Barack Obama to hope. Donald Trump spoke to anger.
And where John McCain said to that woman in a very pivotal moment in his campaign at town hall where he said no, Barack Obama is a good guy. Actually Donald Trump took the exact opposite path and said Barack Obama is a bad guy and Democrats are bad people, Democrats support criminals. Donald Trump has given permission to what we are seeing in all of these viral videos, which are very important right now.
The Puerto Rican woman who is assaulted at a park, because she wearing a shirt. The woman who confronts a young black African-American person selling candy bars at a Walmart. Donald Trump has given permission to that element. So I do appreciate and understand the optimism that Alice is speaking to, but I disagree so strongly. It is why people like me in the Republican Party cannot accept Donald Trump’s leadership.
LEMON: Go ahead Angela.
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So I think that the challenge I have here, and Congressman Jolly, I respect you greatly, Alice I respect you. I just have a problem with revision its history. I have a problem with the fact that we continue to make it seem like racism all of the sudden was discovered right with Donald Trump. That is not really the case.
I remember when Michael Steele was damn mere (inaudible) and kicked out of the RNC. I remember when the Barack, the Magic Negro act came out. I remember when birtherism was a thing. I remember when there was racism tied to the war on drugs with Ronald Reagan. I remember all of these thing and what has happened over time, not just in the Republican Party.
Because the Democrats have blood on their hands too, it’s just not equal is we have allowed covert racism to surface and now it’s overt, that is all that is happening because for years we pretended like covert racism wasn’t really that thing. We pretended like it wasn’t undercover N-word (ph). We pretended like calling people ghetto and hood rep wasn’t racism.
And all of the time it was. And now that thing has become volatile and angry and violent. That is the problem.
JOLLY: Great point.
RYE: We cannot continue to say —
JOLLY: Great point.
RYE: — that racism just surfaced. It’s been here. This country was built on that. We cannot turn our minds —
JOLLY: Great point.
LEMON: Go ahead, Congressman.
RYE: We can’t do that.
LEMON: Go ahead, Congressman.
JOLLY: We have moved but — but under Trump, we have moved from silence to permission, and that is the —
RYE: That’s fair, yes.
JOLLY: — change. That is the change we can’t accept.
LEMON: How do you respond to this? Because Tom (ph) reeled off this statistic or this poll in his tag to me. And I think it deserves exploring a little bit more. Recent Quinnipiac University poll has a striking result.
Forty-nine percent of people said that they believe President Donald Trump to be a racist, while 47 percent believe he’s not. So 49 percent, that is half of the country. Eighty-six percent of Republicans say Trump isn’t racist. Eighty-six percent of Democrats say he is.
What’s — what’s going on here? I think that is striking, Alice, you don’t?
STEWART: It is. And look, I think this is a very — we heard Angela, it’s an extremely emotional issue, it’s a disturbing issue. And in my view, look, Donald Trump has the highest approval rating amongst Republicans than any president has had in decades.
And that is not because Republicans are looking at him for the disgusting things he says with regards to race or women or many other issues, but they stand behind him for his policies and what he’s doing for jobs and what he’s for the economy. They are not using race to define him. They are using that as one aspect of him. Republicans are standing behind him for his policies —
LEMON: Alice, let me ask you respectfully though —
STEWART: It’s the big part of him —
LEMON: How can you look over race — how can you overlook race? How can you overlook sexism? How can you overlook decorum? There’s so many things that you have to overlook just because you want a little bit more in your tax money. OK, so then buy one less Christmas present.
Or that you won the Supreme Court, you want someone whose going to give you the Supreme Court justice that you want even though that person does not follow the rules that you have espoused your entire time about divorce, about cheating, about the way you treat people, about the way you treat children?
So, I don’t understand. This is for me. Help me. Help me please understand that. How can you overlook all these things? If someone talks crap about my mother, about my sister, about my loved ones, about you Alice, who I love, how then do I support that person because I just want a little bit more money, I just want this person on the Supreme Court? I can’t do it. I don’t see it. I don’t understand that. I just don’t get it. Help me. Help me.
STEWART: You can’t overlook it, Don. It’s a bright light and that bright light is an oncoming train. And you cannot overlook it. But at the end of the day, like I said, he wasn’t my first, second, third, fourth or fifth choice for the Republican nominee, but he ended up being the party’s nominee. And I am a Republican, I’m going to support Republican candidates when that is the —
LEMON: But if the party — if the party nominates Hitler, are you going to vote for him? That’s what I don’t get.
STEWART: That’s a far-fetched hypothetical in my view, Don.
LEMON: But I’m saying what you’re saying though but —
JOLLY: It’s not.
LEMON: It sounds like what you’re saying is, it doesn’t matter who this person is at his core as long as he is a Republican. That’s the upon I’m trying to make. Mr. Jolly, do you understand that?
JOLLY: Don, I hate these conversations because it forces Republicans to confront a reality that I believe, which is this president is racist. And whether that is a result of some type of financial elitism (ph), whether it is because of being born on third base through white privilege or whether it is a part of Steve Bannon’s nationalism, this is why traditional Republicans struggle with his leadership.
We can’t forgive it. We can’t normalize it. We can’t suggest that he can be the figure of a party that we subscribe to. It’s heartbreaking. It is not an easy conversation. It sucks. Everything about it sucks. But, this is the president and he is the leader of the Republican Party and he continues to peddle what is very clearly racist tendencies.
RYE: I just want to say, Congressman, like, I wish that the new members, the folks who have followed in your footsteps can at least acknowledge that. That’s all so many of us are saying. At this point, I’m emotional.
JOLLY: And let’s fix it.
RYE: Because we can’t — we cannot — we’re constantly being told — I’m told every day I’m on air that I’m racist because I call out racism.
That is maddening to me. And I’m crying about it because it’s crazy. And I wish —
JOLLY: And the president has normalized it.
RYE: — that somebody who is a colleague of mine like Alice could at least acknowledge that fact. That is so frustrating. We’re supposed to be talking about a 12-year-old boy who was just trying to deliver newspaper and the police are calling him in Ohio where Tamir Rice was killed in the same age. I want to be acknowledged and see that this is not OK for our children. This is not OK for the future direction of this country. So, I want to say, I commend you for saying what you said. It means the world to me.
LEMON: OK, quickly, Congressman, because Alice is going to respond.
JOLLY: And our president has given permission to that.
LEMON: Yeah. Go ahead, Alice. I think Alice should respond.
STEWART: I — Angela, I love you. And it breaks my heart to hear you talk like that and feel that. And I hate that you feel that way. This is such an emotional issue. And I think the point that you made that is so awful to admit is that this has been going on for many, many years and it is boiling over the surface now.
The only — in my view, the only takeaway in the light — bright light of this is that we’re able to have these conversations and talk about them. And I hate and I’m sorry that you feel like you do.
But, I think it’s important to have these conversations and see what we can do to come together. And as we’re learning more and more every day, the efforts to tear us apart, I think at the end of the day will bring us closer together.
LEMON: All right. We’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere.