White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that Democrats need to decide if they “hate” President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' 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.’”
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 JeffriesSinema in Arizona as Democrats try to get spending-infrastructure deal LIVE COVERAGE: Biden tries to unify divided House Democrats search for sweet spot below .5 trillion price tag 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 FlakeFlake donating unused campaign funds to Arizona nonprofit focused on elections: report Biden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report 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.