Possible Biden VP pick dodges question on taking down George Washington statues

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., is among the shortlist of political figures that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is rumored to be considering as a running mate, but she balked when asked about a sensitive subject that has been on the forefront of political discourse.

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning, Duckworth was asked about recent calls to remove monuments commemorating American founding fathers like Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson because they were slave owners.

Rather than answer directly, Duckworth first changed the subject, then made inaccurate references to President Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore on Friday evening.

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“Well let me just say that we should start off by having a national dialogue on it at some point, but right now we’re in the middle of a global pandemic … and one the countries who are opposed to us, Russia, has put a bounty on American troops’ heads,” she said. “What really struck me about the speech that the president gave at Mount Rushmore was that he spent more time worried about honoring dead Confederates than he did talking about the lives of 130,000 Americans who lost their lives to COVID-19 or by warning Russia off the bounty they’re putting on Americans’ heads.”

At no point in Trump’s speech did he show respect to or even mention the Confederacy or its leaders. In fact, the only times he referenced the Civil War was in the context of Union victory and honoring President Abraham Lincoln. He also celebrated the memories of Washington and Jefferson, noting – as CNN’s Dana Bash did – that there are those who seek to eliminate monuments to their memories.

After Duckworth made another allusion to the Confederacy by accusing Trump of honoring “dead traitors,” Bash noted that Washington is not a traitor and that there are people who want to remove statues of him.

“Is that a good idea?” Bash asked.

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Duckworth again did not answer but did say she was willing to hear from those who do want to take down statues of the first president.

“I think we should listen to everybody,” she said. “I think we should listen to the argument there.”

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