Virginia Democrats say they won’t participate in any part of an event commemorating the 400th session of the state’s General Assembly attended by President Donald Trump.
Trump’s visit has not been formally announced, but the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported he is expected to travel to Jamestown on July 30 to deliver an address.
“The current president does not represent the values that we would celebrate at the 400th anniversary of the oldest democratic body in the western world,” Democratic leaders in both chambers of the General Assembly said in a statement issued late Friday. “We offer just three words of advice to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation: ‘Send Him Back.'”
Republicans were quick to point out that Trump was invited by Gov. Ralph Northam, who wrote in a letter signed jointly by Republican leaders in the House and Senate that, “Your presence and remarks on this important anniversary would be most appropriate. By lending your voice and insights, you would continue a tradition that has brought numerous prior presidents and world leaders, including Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, to Jamestown to reflect on the significance of the place.”
Northam’s office said that, while the letter was sent on his letter head, it was drafted by the Jamestown Yorktown Foundation and signed by state leaders at their request. “Governor Northam strongly condemns President Trump’s continued attacks on immigrants and the diversity that makes Virginia and America who we are,” his spokeswoman, Alena Yarmosky, said in an email, noting Northam signed onto a similar invitation extended to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who declined.
Senate Republicans called the boycott of events that include Trump “disappointing and embarrassing.”
“I consider it an honor – and a recognition of the historic importance of this commemoration – to have the president of the United States attend,” said Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, in a statement. “I would be similarly honored were Speaker of the House Pelosi able to join us. Sharing the views of the leader holding an elected office is not a prerequisite for showing respect for the office.”