A Republican lawmaker on Tuesday defended Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau spends millions on ad campaign to mitigate fears on excluded citizenship question Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders Democratic senator meets with Iranian foreign minister MORE in the controversy over his remarks about a judge's ethnicity by saying accusations of racism could also be lodged against President Obama.

"You can easily argue that the president of the United States is a racist with his policies and his rhetoric," Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) said during an appearance on CNN's "At This Hour."


"My purpose here isn't to just go through the list and call everyone a racist. I'm saying that we all can up our game with rhetoric and policy because America, we are a nation of immigrants, we are a melting pot," he added.

The Republican accused Democrats of racial "microtargeting" in politics and policies, adding he didn't believe Trump considered himself to be of a "superior race."

Still, the lawmaker said he agreed with Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Paul Ryan says Biden likely won't get Democratic nomination Judd Gregg: Honey, I Shrunk The Party MORE's (R-Wis.) assessment that Trump calling Judge Gonzalo Curiel biased because of his Mexican heritage is an example of "textbook" racism.

"The way I subjectively define racism, I agree as well. I think that Mr. Trump made a regrettable mistake with his statement," Zeldin said during the interview.

Zeldin also said it was a "regrettable legal strategy" for Trump to claim that Curiel's ethnicity is a conflict of interest in presiding over lawsuits against Trump University.

"I think we shouldn’t be going after ethnicity and race with a judge to assume that they are unqualified to serve as a judge in a particular case because of it," Zeldin said.

Asked if he was put in an awkward position supporting a candidate accused of being a racist, Zeldin said, "I don't feel uncomfortable at all."