“I firmly distance myself from that, and I feel solidarity with the three women who have been attacked,” Merkel said Friday during a news conference, according to footage from Channel 4 News.
Trump actually has been targeting four lawmakers in racist attacks he unfurled beginning Sunday on Twitter ― Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, known collectively as “the Squad.”
His vitriol crested at a campaign rally Wednesday in Greenville, North Carolina, where Trump fans chanted “Send her back!” in response to the president’s diatribe against Omar, who came to the U.S. as a child.
Merkel pointed out that U.S. power is rooted in diversity.
“I want to say clearly that from my perspective, the strength of America lies in the fact that it’s a country in which people of quite different nationalities have contributed to the strength of the American people,” she said. “And so when I hear there are things or statements that run counter to that, I have to speak.”
Trump has had a tense relationship with Merkel as president. In May, she told Harvard University graduates to “tear down walls of ignorance and narrow-mindedness,” in what appeared to be a rebuke of Trump’s policies and rhetoric.
Few other world leaders have spoken against Trump’s comments this week.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chided the president, but in mild terms.
“I think Canadians, and indeed people around the world, know exactly what I think of those comments,” Trudeau said, according to The Globe and Mail. “That is not how we do things in Canada. A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May also criticized Trump’s statements, calling the language “completely unacceptable,” Time magazine reported.
Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who are competing to succeed May as prime minister, echoed her sentiments in their debate Monday, though neither was willing to call Trump’s comments racist.