Republican House leader rejects George W. Bush's condemnation of the party as 'isolationist, protectionist' and 'nativist'

·3 min read
McCarthy, Scalise, Cheney
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., center, flanked by GOP Conference chair Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., left, and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., right, speaks to reporters following their leadership elections for the 117th Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. Scott J. Applewhite/AP
  • House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy dismissed former President George W. Bush's recent condemnation of the GOP.

  • Bush said his party had become "isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent nativist."

  • McCarthy insisted Bush is wrong because the GOP has more House members who are women and people of color than ever before.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday dismissed former President George W. Bush's recent condemnation of the GOP as "isolationist, protectionist, and to a certain extent nativist."

McCarthy insisted that Bush's characterization of their party didn't align with "reality" when it comes to House Republicans because the party has more women and people of color in its ranks in Congress than ever before.

"If I looked at the last election, the Republican Party in Congress ... has elected more women than at any time in the history of the Republican Party. We broadened with the number of minorities as well," McCarthy told reporters during a Thursday press conference. "So the description that I heard you say seems quite different than what reality has playing out today."

He added that his party would "always condemn" racism and cited his decision to remove former Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican who repeatedly espoused white supremacist ideology, from his committee assignments in 2019.

McCarthy later said he'd "like to have a discussion" with Bush "to understand what his feelings are."

The former president is advocating for his party to adopt a more "compassionate" approach to immigration.

"It's a beautiful country we have, and yet it's not beautiful when we condemn and call people names and scare people about immigration," Bush told "Today" earlier this week. "It's an easy issue to frighten some of the electorate, and I'm trying to have a different voice."

While McCarthy cited the House GOP's growing diversity as evidence to refute Bush's claims, some of the newly elected Republican women are among the party's most extreme members. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia has become one of the party's most controversial figures over her promotion of far-right conspiracy theories, including the QAnon lie, and threats she's appeared to make against progressive Democrats.

Greene has also repeatedly spread anti-immigrant sentiment, falsely claiming earlier this year that undocumented immigrants were hosting "big barbacoas" on the border to celebrate President Joe Biden's win. She's also falsely claimed that Biden is intentionally "flooding our country with illegal aliens."

GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert, a freshman from Colorado who's also expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, has similarly fanned the flames of anti-immigrant sentiment. In one instance, she compared undocumented immigrants to Biden's dogs.

"Biden can deport his dogs for violent acts, but not illegal immigrants," she said. "I guess the White House isn't a sanctuary city."

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