Conway: Progressive congresswomen represent 'dark underbelly in this country'

White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Delaney: 'It feels like some Democrats are cheering on a recession' Nikki Haley voices 'complete support' for Pence MORE on Monday piled on in attacking progressive congresswomen who have been the subject of attacks from President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE in recent days, asserting that they represent a "dark underbelly" of the country.

Conway said on Fox News that she disagreed that Trump was helping to unify Democrats just as they had been in the middle of an intraparty feud with his slams against Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezThe Memo: Dangers loom for Trump on immigration Students retreating from politics as campuses become progressive playgrounds Former GOP Rep. Jason Lewis says he'll challenge Tina Smith in Minnesota MORE (N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarTrump to return to North Carolina to stump for special election candidate Former GOP Rep. Jason Lewis says he'll challenge Tina Smith in Minnesota Israel should resist Trump's efforts to politicize support MORE (Minn.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibMichigan city declines to renew contract with ICE to hold detainees Former GOP Rep. Jason Lewis says he'll challenge Tina Smith in Minnesota Israel should resist Trump's efforts to politicize support MORE (Mich.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyFormer GOP Rep. Jason Lewis says he'll challenge Tina Smith in Minnesota Poll: Voters split on whether it's acceptable for Israel to deny Omar, Tlaib visas NJ college censures trustee over posts targeting 'the squad' MORE (Mass.).

"What the president is doing is, we are tired — sick and tired — of many people in this country," she said. "Forget these four. They represent a dark underbelly of people in this country of people who are not respecting our troops, are not giving them the resources and the respect that they deserve."

She slammed the first-term lawmakers for being the only four Democrats to vote against a border funding package that included humanitarian aid to address the influx of migrants.

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In a gaggle with reporters on the White House driveway, Conway accused the press of failing to adequately question the four Democrats after they delivered a press conference denouncing Trump a day earlier.

She told reporters that the congresswomen represent a "dark element," but did not respond to a question about whether that phrase carried racial undertones.

The president sparked an uproar on Sunday morning when he tweeted that progressive congresswomen "who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe" should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."

Trump spent Monday doubling down on his attacks, insisting that those who are inclined to criticize the U.S. should leave.

Conway disputed that the comments and tweets were racist, suggesting that they were about criticizing the lawmakers' policy positions. She argued that attacks on "socialism" and "communism" have "nothing to do with gender," and said she's "had it with people denigrating the American flag."

"When you throw the word racism around long enough, people get desensitized and that's a shame," she said.

Trump did not mention socialism or communism in his original tweets. Instead, he wrote the progressive congresswomen should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." All four women are American citizens, and three of the four were born in the U.S.

Jordan Fabian contributed.