Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) dismissed the four minority congresswomen attacked in racist tweets by President Donald Trump as “whack jobs” who are “the reason that there are directions on a shampoo bottle.”
“They are destroying the Democratic Party,” Kennedy told Fox News host host Tucker Carlson Tuesday night, referring to Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
Apparently referring to other Democrats who have defended the quartet, he said, “I’m appalled that so many ... presidential candidates are falling all over themselves to try to agree with the four horsewomen of the apocalypse. Now, they’re entitled to their opinion but I’m entitled to say that they’re whack jobs.”
He also called the four lawmakers “left-wing cranks.”
Trump set off a firestorm when, in a Sunday Twitter rant that clearly targeted the four congresswomen who are all women of color, he said they should “go back” to other countries. All but one of the lawmakers was born in the U.S.; Omar was born in Somalia and her family immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child.
In the face of widespread criticism that his tweets are racist, Trump has doubled down multiple times on his comments. The House responded on Tuesday with a vote condemning the president’s tweets as racist.
Kennedy, in his Fox News appearance, said he does not believe Trump is racist and he did not think the president’s tweets were racist.
“The simple fact of the matter is that the four congresswomen think that America was wicked in its origins,” he said. “They think that America and its people are even more wicked now. That we are all racist and misogynistic and evil.”
Trump quoted Kennedy’s words in a tweet thread Wednesday morning.
Kennedy stuck by his comments on Wednesday morning in a CNN interview, telling reporter Jim Sciutto that his comments about the congresswomen were “heartfelt.”
“Heartfelt to call sitting congresswomen ‘whack jobs’?” Sciutto asked.
Kennedy replied: “Yea, I believe that,” adding: “I believe that the four congresswomen are more famous than wise. Look, this is America. They are entitled to their beliefs. They are Americans. And I am entitled to mine.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.