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Rep. Rodney Davis urges Trump to ‘go back’ on Charlottesville remarks

Rep. Rodney Davis speaks to reporters after the Illinois Republican Party and County Chairmen's Association breakfast in Springfield Wednesday. | Tina Sfondeles/Sun-Times

SPRINGFIELD — A day after President Trump claimed there’s “blame on both sides” of the Charlottesville attack, Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., decried the violence while urging President Trump to clarify his statement.

“I hope the president clarifies his remarks once again,” Davis said after speaking at the Illinois Republican Party and County Chairmen’s Association breakfast on Wednesday. Davis’ downstate district includes parts of Springfield, Bloomington, Decatur, Champaign and Urbana.

“And I hope the president can be a voice of calm and a voice of reason at a time where we can come together and stop the hate and vitriol we see in the American political climate today.”

Asked how Trump can “clarify” his statement, Davis urged him to “go back to the statement he had a few days ago.”

Davis, who was shot at while at bat last month during an annual charity congressional game, likened the Charlottesville violence to the Alexandria, Virginia shooting.

In June, Davis said he was at his “breaking point,” labeling the targeting of members of Congress “a sad testament of what I now consider political rhetorical terrorism.”

“I don’t blame the president for what happened in Charlottesville no more than I blame Bernie Sanders for what happened to us because one of his supporters and volunteers decided he didn’t like our policy stances and shot at us,” Davis said on Tuesday. “This is way beyond politics.”

But Davis said neo-Nazi’s are “not fine people.”

“Frankly, anybody who wants to carry a Nazi flag on American soil is [sic] not good people and I disagree with that,” Davis said. “…Those of us who understand that that’s not normal in our society, no matter if you’re Republican like me, or Democrat or an independent, we’ve got to stand against what we saw not only two months ago in Alexandria, Virginia but let’s also stand against what we saw in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend.”

Trump on Tuesday said that “very violent” counter-protesters in Charlottesville — whom he dubbed “the alt-left” — share in the blame for the violence that left three people dead.

“You look at both sides. I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it. And you don’t have any doubt about it, either,” the president told reporters.

“What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, alt-right?” Trump asked reporters. “Do they have any semblance of guilt? What about the fact they came charging with clubs in their hands? As far as I’m concerned that was a horrible, horrible day.”

“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent.”

The president’s comments effectively wiped away the more conventional statement he delivered at the White House one day earlier when he branded members of the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists who take part in violence as “criminals and thugs.” Trump’s advisers had hoped those remarks might quell a crush of criticism from both Republicans and Democrats.

On Tuesday, Trump said the groups protesting against white supremacists were “also very violent.”

“I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family, and his country. And that is — you can call this terrorism, you can call it murder, you can call it whatever you want.”

But Trump rejected the notion that neo-Nazis were supporting him.

“They don’t,” he said.

Contributing: Associated Press