PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said Thursday he won’t apologize for controversial remarks he made at a rally last week, where he told supporters President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan “didn’t give a [expletive] about people.”
The colorful remarks came at a rally on Friday in Newark for the New Jersey Working Families Alliance. In an interview with Eyewitness News, Perez said he was taking aim at the top Republicans in Washington over two issues.
“The attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which I thought was heartless,” Perez explained. “Secondly, you look at the budget Donald Trump sent to Congress.”
Perez said the budget proposal would cut into services many Americans depend on, such as heating assistance and Meals on Wheels. “They call it a skinny budget, I call it a gutless budget,” he said.
Perez’s counterpart at the Republican National Committee called his comments “dangerous,” and some have called on him to apologize – including the Rhode Island Republican Party, which labeled him “insulting and unhinged” in a statement Thursday and urged Raimondo to “denounce” his remarks.
“Yeah, I said what I said and I don’t apologize for it. I really think the people that ought to be apologizing are the Republican leadership,” Perez said. “Because they are not only hurting Democrats, they are hurting their own constituents.”
The Democratic Party’s new leader, who was elected in February, was visiting Rhode Island to discuss college affordability and to throw his support behind Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo’s proposal to provide students with free college tuition for two years.
Perez’s agenda included an afternoon tour of the Community College of Rhode Island’s Lincoln campus followed by a forum at Rhode Island College in Providence. He also met privately with various influential local Democrats earlier in the day.
Asked if he truly believed the president and House speaker didn’t care about people, or if merely meant he disagreed with their policies, Perez argued that “budgets are moral documents.”
“They reflect the values of the body that propose them,” he said.
The full interview with Perez will air on WPRI 12’s Newsmakers this weekend.