Hours after President Trump suggested that the late John Dingell, a 29-term representative from Michigan, might be in hell, some of his staunchest Republican allies are encouraging him to apologize.
According to the Detroit News, Senator Lindsey Graham and Representative Dan Crenshaw, among others, have urged Trump to walk back the remark he made at a rally in Michigan Wednesday night.
The comment about Dingell came amid Trump’s longest-ever campaign rally. In one tangent, he complained about Representative Debbie Dingell supporting his impeachment despite the “A-plus” treatment her husband received following his death in February. Trump said that after the funeral, Dingell thanked him and said her husband was “looking down” with satisfaction.
“I said, ‘That’s okay. Don’t worry about it.’ Maybe he’s looking up, I don’t know. Maybe,” Trump said as the crowd groaned.
Representative Dingell tweeted a response Wednesday night.
By Thursday morning, the White House was in defense mode. White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said on Good Morning America that Trump “has been under attack” and suggested he was letting off steam. “We all know the president is a counterpuncher,” she said.
But that response seems insufficient for some. Along with Graham and Crenshaw, several Republican members of Michigan’s congressional delegation have said Trump should apologize.
“I’ve always looked up to John Dingell — my good friend and a great Michigan legend,” Republican Representative Fred Upton tweeted. “There was no need to ‘dis’ him in a crass political way. Most unfortunate and an apology is due.”
Representative Paul Mitchell, also a Republican, tweeted that Trump’s remark was “unacceptable from anyone, let alone the President of the United States.” He added, “An apology is due, Mr. President.”
Why are Republicans, who are typically so reluctant to criticize Trump, defending Dingell? As a Republican congressman told Fox News reporter Chad Pergram, going after the beloved ex-representative in his home state is playing with fire and Trump “could lose Michigan alone on this one.”