Mike Pence faced backlash after comparing Donald Trump's proposed compromise regarding his border wall to Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of racial equality
During an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, Pence spoke in glowing terms about the president’s proposed compromise to end the ongoing government shutdown, which would offer temporary protection for some undocumented immigrants in exchange for $5.7 billion in wall funding.
On Sunday’s show, which took place one day before the federal holiday honoring the late civil rights icon, Pence attempted to make a comparison between King and Trump, 72.
“One of my favorite quotes from Dr. King was, ‘Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.’ You think of how he changed America. He inspired us to change through the legislative process to become a more perfect union. That’s exactly what President Trump is calling on the Congress to do,” Pence, 59, remarked.
“Come to the table in a spirit of good faith. We’ll secure our border, we’ll reopen the government and we’ll move our nation forward as the president said yesterday to an even broader discussion about immigration reform in the months ahead,” he added.
As NBC News pointed out, King specifically spoke out against the Berlin Wall shortly after giving the iconic speech at the Lincoln Memorial.
“Here on either side of the wall are God’s children, and no manmade barrier can obliterate that fact,” he said in 1964, during a visit to East Berlin.
Pence’s remarks quickly generated a passionate backlash online.
“Pence invoking Martin Luther King Jr. is grotesque,” wrote one Twitter user. “Pence cheerleads for his boss, a bigot who literally praised people who were marching alongside the KKK and Neo-Nazis. The stain of Charlottesville is precisely what MLK Jr. tried to remove from America. Trump defended it.”
Added stand-up comic W. Kamau Bell, “Once again, Mike Pence is the walking embodiment of the saying, ‘Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.’ “
“MLK: ‘I have a dream.’ Trump: ‘I have a wall,’ ” he continued, adding, “Yup, totally see it now.”
Pence’s decision to invoke Dr. King’s words was also decried by the NAACP, as well as the civil rights trailblazer’s son.
“The vice president attempted to compare the president to Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a bridge builder, not a wall builder. Martin Luther King Jr. would say, ‘Love, not hate, will make America great.’ ” Martin Luther King III said while celebrating his father’s legacy in D.C. on Monday, according to a tweet posted by Edward-Isaac Dovere, a reporter from The Atlantic.
Meanwhile, the NAACP expressed their outrage by simply calling Pence’s remark “an insult to Dr. King’s Legacy.”
RELATED VIDEO: Hundreds of Thousands Protest President Trump’s Immigration Policies at Families Belong Together Marches
Following Pence’s television appearance, he accompanied Trump for an unannounced visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in D.C. on Monday.
During their brief visit, which only lasted for two minutes, according to Politico, the pair left a wreath by a sculpture of King.
“Today we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for standing up for the self-evident truth Americans hold so dear, that no matter what the color of our skin or the place of our birth, we are all created equal by God,” Trump tweeted earlier in the day, alongside a link to his presidential proclamation declaring the day a national holiday.
He went on to share a video taken from his trip with Pence to the memorial.
“Today, it was my great honor to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial with @VP Mike Pence, in honor of #MLKDay,” he wrote alongside the clip.
Trump’s commemoration of the national holiday this year was in stark comparison to how he spent it last year.
In 2017, Trump spent MLK Day playing golf in Florida, after previously encouraging citizens to perform “acts of civic work and community service” on the holiday, according to Politico.