“I wish the President would talk more about the strong economy that he has helped create and unite people around that,” Portman, a Republican, said.
And Erin Collins, a spokeswoman for Rep. Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville, said simply that Balderson “doesn’t condone the tweets.”
Democrats, by contrast and unsurprisingly, were harsher in their criticism.
In a conference call with reporters, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Trump “has shown again and again that he’s a racist, period.”
“And he’s almost proud of it, the way that he talks,” Brown said. “It’s just very sad.”
Columbus-area Rep. Joyce Beatty, a Dayton native, said Trump’s tweet “is disgusting —and reminiscent of a time in our country’s history when discrimination ruled.
“Hearing the hateful rhetoric coming out of the White House cannot not be tolerated by anyone who claims to love this country,” she said. “We are stronger as a country when we are united, so I implore all Americans—Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike—to speak out against this vile, xenophobic, and dangerous attack on our fellow Americans.”
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, meanwhile, called the tweet “disgusting, vile and racist.”
“The President of the United States is telling four congresswomen of color to go back to where they came from. It’s un-presidential and un-American,” he tweeted. “Diversity does not weaken us, it makes us stronger.”
Said Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati: "One of our nation's greatest strengths is our diversity of backgrounds and opinions. We should work together on solutions to our problems, and we can disagree without being disagreeable."
Only Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, seemed to defend Trump, saying, "The President is frustrated by the ridiculous and dangerous positions of the Left….of course he's not racist!"
Unbowed by criticism, President Trump on Monday defended his tweet calling on four Democratic congresswomen of color to go back to their “broken and crime infested” countries. Condemnation of his comments “doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me,” he declared.
Trump said Monday that if the lawmakers “hate our country,” they “can leave” it.
“If you’re not happy in the U.S., if you’re complaining all the time, you can leave, you can leave right now,” he said.
Asked whether Trump’s comments were racist, Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, defended Trump, telling reporters he had been responding to “very specific” comments made by Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who was born in Somalia, and was not making a “universal statement.”
But Trump didn’t make that distinction in his tweets. He cited “Congresswomen” — an almost-certain reference to a group of women known as “the squad” that includes Omar, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a 2016 Republican challenger to Trump, was also critical of the president.
“What Donald Trump said about Democrat women in Congress is deplorable and beneath the dignity of the office. We all, including Republicans, need to speak out against these kinds of comments that do nothing more than divide us and create deep animosity - maybe even hatred,” Kasich said.