Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. offered his first substantive response to President Trump’s attacks on Baltimore, telling radio host Clarence Mitchell IV on Monday morning that social media insults do nothing to help the nation’s cities meet their challenges.
“The comments are just outrageous and inappropriate,” Hogan (R) told Mitchell, a former state legislator, on WBAL AM-1090’s “C4 Show.”
“Why are we not focused on solving the problems and getting to work, instead of who’s tweeting what and who is calling who what kind of names. It’s just absurd,” Hogan said.
Hogan was sworn in on Friday as chairman of the National Governors Association, and he noted that his first remarks after taking the gavel were focused on “this exact point — talking about the angry and divisive politics that are literally tearing America apart.”
“The governors have found a better way to govern and move forward,” he added. “But … Washington is completely consumed with angry and divisive politics. Divisiveness and dysfunction.”
Hogan praised Baltimore’s mayor and the city’s new police chief for coming up with a new crime plan, and he said he and the head of the state police would soon be meeting with the two men.
He faulted the nation’s leaders for not doing more to help American cities, the Maryland General Assembly for not cracking down on people who repeatedly use firearms in crimes of violence, and Baltimore judges for not keeping repeat offenders locked up for longer periods.
“We sent in 500 additional officers. We made 2,000 arrests. We’re pushing for tougher sentencing for repeat violent offenders. We’ve torn down 4,000 blighted buildings. We’ve invested $5 billion into the city of Baltimore. I mean, we’re doing a lot of things, but we sure could use some help from the White House and from the Congress,” Hogan said.
He expressed cautious optimism that when the current furor over tweets dies down, there may be an opportunity for constructive action.
“We really do need a huge focus and direction from the federal government. The state and the city can’t do it alone,” Hogan said.
Although he repeatedly claimed to have responded “immediately” to Trump’s attacks on the city and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D), critics said Hogan was slow to stand up to the president.
During an interview on CNN on Monday morning, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young (D) called Hogan “a good partner with me and the city of Baltimore, but I would like him to be a little more forceful on President Trump and his attack on the largest city in Maryland.”
A Washington Post story over the weekend also took Hogan to task for not stepping up more forcefully to defend the city after Trump’s tweets. The president’s comments dominated social media and cable news all weekend, and they were referenced repeatedly on the Sunday talk shows.
Hogan has long been a vocal critic of Trump, dating back to before the 2016 election, and he briefly flirted with challenging the president in the 2020 primary, even traveling to New Hampshire, home to the nation’s first primary, to address an influential political group.
“You can’t find another Republican governor in America that’s been more critical of the president on so many topics,” he told Mitchell.
Although the president has a well-established pattern of using harshly demeaning terms to describe communities of color and their leaders — Mitchell noted that “Trump is a racist” — Hogan steered clear of that debate, focused instead on the Twitter wars consuming “the people in Washington.”
In his first remarks as head of the NGA, Hogan announced an initiative to rally the nation’s leaders behind increased spending on the nation’s infrastructure, a Trump campaign promise on which he has not acted. Hogan’s speech, which received modest attention, might well have been eclipsed by the president’s multi-day and headline-grabbing tirade, which commenced early Saturday.
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