Representative Keith Ellison said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is “acting more responsible” than President Donald Trump. Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat, later retracted that but still said he thinks Trump is “irresponsible.”
During an appearance at the progressive Netroots Nation conference in Atlanta on Friday, Ellison said Trump’s strong rhetoric proves that the antiwar movement must also be as strong.
“You have this guy making bellicose threats against somebody else who has very little to lose over there,” Ellison, who also serves as the Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, said. “Kim Jong Un — the world always thought he was not a responsible leader. Well, he’s acting more responsible than this guy.”
He continued, “The time for cranking up the antiwar machine is right now. If you don’t want to be a deer in the headlights, start calling for diplomacy immediately.”
After the conference, Ellison told the Washington Post that he probably shouldn’t have made his point that way and immediately knew it could be used as as attack against him.
“That was one of those I wish I’d not said,” Ellison told the Post. “It’s tailor-made for somebody to misuse. I’d say he’s being incredibly irresponsible and he’s putting us in a situation where you could have an accidental launch. I mean, his rhetoric might make Kim Jong Un think that he needs to strike first. What we need is someone bringing calm to the situation, not spiking it.”
Ellison’s prediction was correct, as the Republican National Committee’s rapid-response director, Michael Ahrens, told the Post, “With radical beliefs like these, Democrats need to decide whether Keith Ellison deserves to speak for their party going forward.”
Ellison’s statement came after a week of escalating tension between the U.S. and North Korea. Trump has amped up the rhetoric after North Korea threatened to launch missiles to land off the coast of the U.S. territory of Guam.
On Friday afternoon, Trump stood by his “fire and fury” comments.
“I hope that they are going to fully understand the gravity of what I said, and what I said is what I mean,” Trump said from his golf club in New Jersey. “So hopefully they’ll understand exactly what I said and the meaning of those words. Those words are very, very easy to understand.”