Local Republicans condemn riots at Capitol, say ‘plenty of blame to go around’

Published 12:05 am Sunday, January 10, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — While local Republicans, including two of Rowan County’s lawmakers, condemn the violent insurrection that erupted from a mob of President Donald Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, Trump cannot be the only one to blame, they say.

Ada Fisher, former North Carolina Republican National Committee member, said the events that transpired were unfortunate and reflect poorly on Trump, the GOP and media as well. She said “we all bear some responsibility” for Wednesday’s events, citing the media’s unfairness to Trump throughout his presidency and the subsequent censorship from social media platforms.

On Friday, Twitter announced that it had permanently suspended Trump’s personal account, citing a risk of Trump inciting further violence. Facebook also announced that Trump’s account, both on Facebook and Instagram, would be indefinitely suspended, at least throughout the duration of his term.

“You don’t give those (platforms) that kind of power,” she said. “It sets a dangerous precedent.”

While many lawmakers across the aisle have placed blame on the president for inciting Wednesday’s events, including North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr, Fisher said “nobody can make you do what you don’t want to do.”

Rep. Harry Warren, a Republican who represents the 76th District in the state House, said that the nation may never know all the factors that resulted in Wednesday’s actions, but that there’s plenty of blame to go around.

“We have one of the best governmental systems in the world to address our issues. What happened there isn’t in our toolbox,” Warren said. “It also detracts from resolving the issue.”

Warren said he’s disappointed that any elected official or private citizen wouldn’t want to have credible allegations of voter fraud investigated, adding that the nation can’t pull together without first laying that issue to rest.

While both Reps. Richard Hudson, a Republican who represented part of Rowan County until last week, and Ted Budd, a Republican whose district now covers all of Rowan County, were among the swath of GOP lawmakers who signed off on contesting the Electoral College votes, they both condemned the violence as well.

Neither Sen. Thom Tillis nor Burr, North Carolina’s two Republican senators, supported the contesting of those Electoral College votes. Tillis said it’s a precedent that shouldn’t be set, while Burr said there was no evidence of widespread fraud that would overturn the election.

Warren’s hope, nonetheless, is that the elected officials who vowed to investigate such allegations will do so rather than brushing the issue under the rug.

“I am sad that the crowd breached the Capitol building and that there were deaths,” said Elaine Hewitt, who’s been involved with the local Republican party for nearly a decade. “I expect that the left will take no responsibility for the division and violence in our nation. Rather, they will blame it all on Trump and his supporters.”

Hewitt said what’s needed is a full appreciation of how the nation got to this point and how it can work together to resolve real issues — one of which is election integrity. She criticized “the media’s censorship” of Hunter Biden’s alleged ties to China, which she says impacted the election, along with network news beginning each evening with “something negative about President Trump.”

Additionally, the reason Trump has such a loyal following, she said, is due to pop culture and mainstream media’s marginalization of conservative voices.

“No Republican was able to successfully stand up to the left culture. Finally, Donald Trump did,” Hewitt said. “To now say that 50% of the U.S. population is irrelevant and evil would only breed more frustration and anger. I wish the left could understand their part in creating Jan. 6.”

Another concern regarding election integrity, she said, is the modification of election rules in multiple states, including North Carolina, amidst the pandemic. She criticized the state board of elections for “eliminating safeguards in our absentee ballot system” after state elections officials and courts ruled the deadline to receive absentee by mail ballots could be extended to Nov. 12 as long as ballots were postmarked no later than Nov. 3.

Sen. Carl Ford, a Republican who represents Rowan and Stanly counties in the state Senate, said he doesn’t condone the riots and that he also didn’t condone the “so-called protests” that became riots over the summer. And at that time, Democrats weren’t blamed.

“I don’t like a double-standard,” Ford said. “It’s hard to blame one person for a few loose screws.”

Fisher said the events on Wednesday re-emphasized the importance of the Electoral College, particularly with its impact via checks and balances, and the power of Americans’ votes.

But Fisher criticizes the treatment of Wednesday’s protestors in comparison to Black Lives Matter protestors last summer.

“Had that been Black people, (Capitol Police) would’ve shot them,” she said. “Given the contentious nature of society, not just this election, the Capitol Police should’ve been prepared to deal with this crowd.”

Fisher is a lifelong Republican who had a 12-year tenure as a member of the Republican National Convention until August. But the GOP “comes out of this looking really bad,” she said. Moving forward, there should be an orderly transition to the next presidency.

“(Trump) was elected out of office,” Fisher said. “He has to acknowledge that and move on.”

She said bringing forward articles of impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office immediately — something more than 150 Democrats and at least one Republican have called for — results in “even more poison in the atmosphere,” Fisher said. It’s not something she believes should, or could, be done in the remaining two weeks of Trump’s term.

Before the suspension of his account, Trump tweeted Friday that he would not be attending Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. Fisher said he should attend with graciousness and diplomacy as it will set the tone for what happens in America.

“If he doesn’t,” she said, “he shouldn’t have a say in what the GOP does.”

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.