Detroit — National Republican Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel on Monday denounced violence that erupted during a white nationalist rally in Virginia over the weekend, saying “it’s unacceptable” and “not welcome” in the Republican Party.

McDaniel made the remarks in advance of a planned roundtable discussion in Detroit with several dozen area business leaders, clergy and representatives of community groups.

The weekend rally in Charlottesville was held by those opposing a plan to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The event erupted into chaos, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency and turned deadly as a driver plowed into the crowd.

“As chairman of the Republican Party I want to be perfectly clear that white supremacy, neo-Nazi, KKK and hate speech and bigotry is not welcome and does not have a home in the Republican Party,” said McDaniel, who extended thoughts and prayers to the victims.


National Republican Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel denounces the actions of white supremacists over the weekend. She appeared in Detroit Monday with Ron Weiser, Michigan Republican Party chairman. David Guralnick, The Detroit News

“We are going to continue conversations and engage in a dialogue that helps us move forward, because what we saw this weekend shows that we need more work done in moving forward and ... uniting this country,” she added, prior to the closed-door session at the party offices on Livernois.

“This office symbolizes to me the conversation we need to have across this country as to how do we break down these walls of racism and bigotry that clearly still exist. By being a Republican office in Detroit for four years that never shuts its doors, we are committed to continuing to fight for ways that we can move beyond our hateful past and create a brighter future of unity across the country.”

McDaniel, who was elected RNC chair in January, also defended President Donald Trump’s early response to the tragedy, which earned him criticism from Democrats and Republicans after he blamed bigotry on “many sides.”

Trump, she said, has come out against “bigotry and racism and hate in all its forms” and today, she believes he’ll go even further.

“All of our leaders have to do that across party lines,” she said. “This isn’t a partisan issue, this is an American issue.”

Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser, who co-hosted Monday’s roundtable, added the extremists “do not speak for me or the Republican Party.”

“Together we can fight against racism and hatred and talk to each other about what matters,” he said. “If we do that, then we honor the best of America.”

Facing backlash over his initial reaction, Trump condemned hate groups as “repugnant” and declared “racism is evil” in remarks delivered Monday at the White House.

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon contends Trump’s delay in addressing the tragedy and his initial suggestion that both sides have some culpability has “emboldened” the groups. The public comments offered Monday by the president didn’t rectify it, Dillon said.

“He gave a very boilerplate statement denouncing racism and saying that these groups are bad, which is something that obviously is the minimum bar for anybody holding elected office,” he said.

“It’s a tragedy what happened in Charlottesville. Unfortunately, I think we are going to see more and more of this as these Nazis and others are emboldened because the president of the United States and others won’t take them on,” Dillon said. “We have to confront this head-on. Any equivocation in denouncing these kind of people is un-American and not sharing the values this country stands for.”

Monday’s roundtable is the fourth held at the Detroit GOP office over the last year. Past sessions have featured Lt. Gov. Brian Calley and Donald Trump Jr., among others, officials said.

The private discussion was expected to cover education, criminal justice reform, jobs and the economy.

“For far too long, Democrats have taken urban centers for granted and truthfully Republicans have not been reaching out to the extent we should,” Weiser said in his brief opening remarks. “We are trying to change that.”

Dillon countered that not only does the Democratic Party reach out and have grassroots organizers in Detroit, they also have elected Democratic officials who are always working with their constituents.

“Is everything perfect? Absolutely not. But the idea that somehow Republicans are better served to address issues of urban centers is preposterous on its face,” said Dillon.

McDaniel on Monday touted Trump’s efforts to improve economic policies to benefit the country’s urban areas. She said consumer confidence is up as is the job rate and touted the presidents tax reform plans.

She also stood behind Trump’s response to North Korea’s nuclear program and said he has demonstrated that he will not tolerate an attack on the United States, including a territory such as Guam.

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