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political notebook

In Baltimore, Carson defends Trump’s harsh depiction of the city

BALTIMORE — US Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson traveled here Wednesday to defend President Trump’s harsh depiction of the city, saying ‘‘there are problems in Baltimore, and you can’t sweep them under the rug.’’

Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon who has a long history at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, said the city has to be ‘‘willing to address’’ the problems it faces.

‘‘It’s sort of like a patient who has cancer: You can dress them up and put a nice suit on and try to ignore it, but that cancer is going to have a devastating effect,’’ he said standing outside of Hollins House, a federally funded housing complex for senior citizens located in the congressional district of US Representative Elijah Cummings, Democrat of Maryland. ‘‘You have to be willing to address that issue if you are ever going to solve it.’’

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Trump has triggered a firestorm since Saturday by repeatedly attacking Cummings and his majority-black legislative district, which he described on Twitter as a ‘‘rodent infested mess’’ . . . where ‘‘no human being would want to live.’’ He called Cummings ‘‘a racist and a bully,’’ and tweeted that Baltimore, Maryland’s largest city, was a ‘‘very dangerous & filthy place.’’

No state or city officials appeared at the news conference, which was announced Tuesday night and was originally slated to be held on an open lot that belongs to a church, across the street from the eight-story housing development.

Carson aides hastily moved the event to an alley behind the housing complex after Gregory Evans, a member of Morning Star Baptist Church, said no one asked permission to hold an event on the church property.

Washington Post

CNN’s Lemon under attack

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday renewed his attacks on CNN’s Don Lemon, one of the moderators of the Democratic debate, calling him ‘‘the dumbest man on television’’ and suggesting he was ‘‘too dumb’’ to understand that he should ask fair questions.

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Trump’s latest ire directed at Lemon, an African-American whose intelligence he has publicly questioned before, appeared prompted by Lemon’s assertion at Tuesday’s debate in Detroit that Trump is pursuing ‘‘a reelection strategy based in part on racial division.’’

Washington Post

D.C. cathedral clergy speak out

WASHINGTON — In unusually forceful language, the leadership of the Washington National Cathedral condemned what it called the ‘‘racialized rhetoric’’ of President Trump and directly compared him to 1950s anti-Communist demagogue Senator Joseph McCarthy.

The statement, released Tuesday, isn’t so much an appeal for Trump to retract or soften his statements as a call for the nation as a whole to reject them.

It asks: ‘‘After two years of President Trump’s words and actions, when will Americans have enough?’’

The statement, issued in the name of three of the cathedral’s top leaders — the Revs. Mariann Budde, Randolph Hollerith, and Kelly Douglas — makes multiple direct references to the Communist witch-hunts of the 1950s led by McCarthy.

It accuses Trump of deliberately fanning racial divisions for political gain in the same way that McCarthy used fears of Communist infiltration.

‘‘When such violent dehumanizing words come from the president of the United States, they are a clarion call and give cover to white supremacists,’’ it states. ‘‘We have come to accept a level of insult and abuse in political discourse that violates each person’s sacred identity as a child of God.’’

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The cathedral belongs to the Episcopal Church and is designated by Congress as a nondenominational National House of Prayer. It has been the site of four state funerals for deceased presidents — most recently George H.W. Bush in 2018.

Associated Press

Democrats tweak ‘Moscow Mitch’

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Democrats in Mitch McConnell’s home state are pitching ‘‘Moscow Mitch’’ merchandise to try and capitalize on a bitter dispute involving the Kentucky senator over election security legislation.

The Kentucky Democratic Party said Wednesday it’s launching the ‘‘Moscow Mitch’’ Web store in a dig at the Senate majority leader.

The party is selling red T-shirts for $25. They depict a picture of McConnell wearing a Cossack hat with the ‘‘hammer and sickle’’ symbol. The shirt declares ‘‘Just say Nyet to Moscow Mitch’’ in yellow, Soviet-style letters.

A Washington Post columnist recently criticized the Senate Republican leader for blocking legislation aimed at protecting the nation’s political system against foreign attack. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough weighed in with the ‘‘Moscow Mitch’’ nickname.

McConnell fired back in a speech comparing the attacks to ‘‘modern-day McCarthyism.’’

Associated Press