OPIOID SERIES:

Huckabee Sanders: Dems need to decide if they 'hate' Trump 'more than they love this country'

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that Democrats need to decide if they “hate” President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republicans push Mulvaney, Trump to rescind Gateway funds Pruitt spent K flying aides to Australia to prep for later-canceled visit: report Rosenstein told Trump he is not a target of Mueller probe: report MORE “more than they love this country” after Trump slammed Democrats who didn’t applaud during his State of the Union address.

“Democrats refuse to celebrate the accomplishments of last year that have helped all Americans,” Huckabee Sanders told reporters during Tuesday’s White House press briefing. “What I don’t understand and what I don’t think the country understands is why Democrats are so upset about lower taxes and higher wages.”

“That’s something that every American should be celebrating, not crying about, not sitting on their hands for,” the press secretary continued. “Democrats are going to have to make a decision at some point really soon: do they hate this president more than they love this country? And I hope the answer to that is ‘no.’”

ADVERTISEMENT
At a speech in Ohio on Monday, Trump targeted Democratic lawmakers who didn’t applaud during his speech, calling their reaction “un-American.”

"Can we call that treason? Why not?" Trump said. "They certainly didn't seem to love our country very much."

He also said Democrats "would rather see Trump do badly than our country do well," calling their behavior "very selfish."

Democrats blasted Trump’s remarks, with Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesPrison reforms groups battle over strategy Comprehensive legislation on verge of bringing music copyright laws into the 21st Century Dem lawmaker honors 'top 10 female MC hip-hop collaborations' for Women's History Month MORE (D-N.Y.) in a House floor speech slamming Trump for the comments, saying “this is not a dictatorship, this is a democracy.”

Trump’s remarks also drew sharp criticism from Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeHeitkamp becomes first Dem to back Pompeo for secretary of State Duckworth brings her baby to Senate vote, drawing a crowd Senate confirms Trump’s pick to lead NASA MORE (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday, who called them “not normal” in a Senate floor speech.

"One who levels such a charge knows neither the meaning of treason nor the power that the words of a president carry. ... Our silence will also mark the day that we failed to recognize that this conduct in an American president is simply not normal," Flake said.

The White House has defended Trump’s remarks, saying Trump was being “tongue-in-cheek,” and Huckabee Sanders told reporters Tuesday that Trump was “clearly joking” in his remarks.