The outrage was swift and furious.
Republicans across the political spectrum decried President Trump’s Tuesday press conference in which he boosted white supremacists, equating torch-wielding neo-Nazis chanting “Jews will not replace us” with those protesting against them.
“No, not the same,” former governor Mitt Romney tweeted. “One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes.”
“The president is wrong,” conservative Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado told a local TV station.
“This is terrible! The president of the United States needs to condemn these kind of hate groups,” a furious Governor John Kasich of Ohio told NBC. “The president has to totally condemn this.”
“There’s no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate& bigotry,” Senator John McCain of Arizona tweeted. “The President of the United States should say so.”
Then there was Governor Charlie Baker, a sometimes Trump critic.
If the popular, moderate Massachusetts Republican felt anger or dismay at Trump saying there were some “very fine people” amid the Friday protest by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., he did not show it in his carefully worded Tuesday evening statement. Yes, Baker criticized Trump’s initial response earlier this week, but the statement that appeared Tuesday on his Twitter feed lacked the indignation and raw emotion expressed by many of his GOP colleagues.
“When it comes to denouncing evils like white supremacy and neo-nazism, it is vital public officials speak clearly and forcefully and I am deeply disappointed in the president’s words today,” Baker said. “What happened in Charlottesville was an act of terror, perpetrated by white supremacists — something every leader can and should denounce forcefully.”
For those following along at home, “disappointment” is, perhaps, the governor’s most frequent emotional response to anything concerning, a trend noted by Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr.
Last year, Baker was “deeply disappointed” by president Barack Obama’s plan to designate an area off the New England coast as a marine national monument.
The Swampscott Republican was “disappointed” earlier this year when the Democratic Legislature overrode his veto of substantial legislative pay raises.
In May, he was “disappointed” by the US House of Representatives vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
In June, he said Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement “is disappointing.”
There was disappointment in his first months on the job, too.
In 2015, amidst a snowstorm, he was also “disappointed” to find out that the MBTA and commuter rail were struggling to provide service due to weather conditions.
Baker, a Republican poised to seek reelection next year in a state in which only 33 percent of general election voters cast their ballots for Trump, has attempted to walk a fine line when responding to various Trump controversies.
He was among the first high-profile Republicans in the country to say he wouldn’t vote for Trump on the November 2016 ballot.
On Monday, at a news conference with Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston, Baker said Trump should have been quicker to specifically condemn the supremacists at the rally.
“I think he should have come out and said what everybody else was thinking and believing shortly after the incident that occurred in Charlottesville, which is: White supremacists have no business and no place in American political dialogue. Period. End of discussion. Case closed,” Baker said.
The governor said he calls out the president when he disagrees with him. But he has carefully calibrated his responses to the New York billionaire’s controversial comments over the last two years.Joshua Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.