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Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who is among the shortlist of potential running mates for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, said she is open to listening to arguments for removing statues of founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Duckworth made the comments on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
Show host Dana Bash asked Duckworth: “Senator, I know that you support change in the name of military bases named after Confederate leaders, but there are leaders like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson who were slave owners. And some people are demanding their monuments come down, too. In your view, where does it end? Should statues, for example, of George Washington come down?”
Duckworth originally put off answering the question about removing statues, and instead focused on President Donald Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore on the eve of Fourth of July.
“Well, let me just say we should start off by having a national dialogue on it at some point,” Duckworth said. “But right now we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. And one of our countries that are opposed to us, Russia, has put a bounty on American troops’ heads.”
“What really struck me about this speech that the president gave at Mount Rushmore was that he spent more time worried about honoring dead Confederates than he did talking about the lives of our 130,000 Americans who lost their lives to COVID-19, or by warning Russia off of the bounties they’re putting on Americans’ heads,” the Democratic senator said.
“His priorities are all wrong here,” she continued. “He should be talking about what we’re going to do to overcome this pandemic. What are we going to do to push Russia back? Instead, he had no time for that. He spent all his time talking about dead traitors.”
Bash then reiterated her question, and asked if removing statues of Washington is a “good idea.”
“I think we should listen to everybody,” Duckworth responded. “I think we should listen to the argument there, but remember that the president at Mount Rushmore was standing on ground that was stolen from Native Americans who had actually been given that land during a treaty.”
Last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she is in favor of putting historical statues up for review as to whether they should be removed or not.
The argument for removing monuments of former presidents Washington and Jefferson is because they were slave owners. The movement to tear down historical statues has gained traction following the George Floyd protests.
A statue commemorating Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was voted to be removed in Boston, and there is pressure to tear down an Honest Abe statue in Wisconsin. The American Museum of Natural History in New York City is removing a statue of Theodore Roosevelt.