An attack by Donald Trump on four congresswomen of colour has served to unite the Democrats in searing condemnation, after fierce internal division.
President Trump said on Sunday that the four women should go back to the "broken and crime infested" countries they came from, ignoring the fact that all of the women are American citizens and three were born in the US.
Trump was almost certainly referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and her House allies in what's become known as "the squad." The others are Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Only Omar, from Somalia, is foreign-born.
Republicans remained largely silent after Trump's morning tweets, but the remarks caused Democrats to set aside their internal rifts to rise up in a united chorus against the president
Ocasio-Cortez swiftly denounced his remarks . "Mr. President, the country I 'come from,' & the country we all swear to, is the United States," she tweeted, adding that "You rely on a frightened America for your plunder." Omar also addressed herself directly to Trump in a tweet, writing: "You are stoking white nationalism (because) you are angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who's been jousting for days with Ocasio-Cortez said Trump wants to "make America white again."
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, summed up the Democratic response: "Racial arsonist strikes again. Shut. Your. Reckless. Mouth."
Trump appeared to be trying to capitalise on a rift between Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez. The Speaker had been seeking to minimise Ocasio-Cortez's influence in the House Democratic caucus in recent days, prompting Ocasio-Cortez to accuse Pelosi of trying to marginalise women of colour.
On Friday, Trump said of Pelosi "She is not a racist."
On Sunday, Trump's tone took a turn.
"So interesting to see 'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run," he tweeted.
"Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done."
He added: "These places need your help badly, you can't leave fast enough. I'm sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!"
"Let's be clear about what this vile comment is: A racist and xenophobic attack on Democratic congresswomen," tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate.
Another 2020 contender, former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, tweeted at the president: "This is racist. These congresswomen are every bit as American as you - and represent our values better than you ever will."
Shortly after the tweets, and a later post defending conditions at a border detention facility, Trump left the White House to go golfing at his Virginia club.