Former Rep. J.C. Watts: Trump Has Obligation Not to Pour Salt on the Wounds

Melanie Arter | August 21, 2017 | 12:34pm EDT
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Former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) (Screenshot of NBC News video)

( – Former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that President Donald Trump has the obligation not to pour salt on the wounds of the racial divide that began before he was elected.

“One thing I will agree with President Trump on is this: the racial divide didn’t just happen when Donald Trump got elected. They didn’t just happen when President Obama got elected. I think they were probably heightened. I think they were probably intensified under President Obama and I think they carried over into the Trump administration,” Watts said.


“Nevertheless J.C. Watts as an elected official, as a leader if you will, or President Trump or President Obama, we all have obligations as leaders to not put salt in the wound, to bring a decency and a respect to the table to say, ‘Look, we’re going to call evil what it is. We’re going to stare evil down,’” he said.

Watts said “when any of us speak to the side of evil or we maybe unintentionally give the impression that we’re siding with the evil, that’s a tough ditch to get out of.”

He said all presidents have what he called “right-now moments.”

“Inevitably, Republicans, Democrats, every president is going to have a ‘right-now moment,’ and I think President Trump had a right-now moment last weekend, and I don’t think he responded the right way. Now, he probably disagrees with that. But I don’t think he responded the right way,” Watts said.

“And I think that when circumstances like last weekend happen, I think we need moral clarity. A president speaks for himself, for his values, in those ‘right-now moments,’ and he speaks to -- he speaks for the values of our country. And you saw the exodus of many people on the business council, who resigned, who said those are not my personal values, those are not our corporate values, and those -- we don’t believe -- are the values of our country.

“We had someone from the president’s faith council that resigned, Rev. Bernard out of New York. I’m quite disappointed, Chuck, that we didn’t have more on the faith council to resign or at least speak out,” Watts said, referring to New York City megachurch pastor A.R. Bernard of the Christian Cultural Center, who announced on Friday that he was leaving the president’s faith council.

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