Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, offered to help pay for a plane ticket for Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota, to return to Somalia, the country she fled as a child. He made his comments to the far-right news outlet Breitbart last week, saying Omar might “appreciate America more” upon her return.
Omar is one of the four progressive congresswomen President Trump told to “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
During a summit for young activists hosted by the conservative group Turning Point USA in Washington, D.C. last week, Paul said Omar was “ungrateful” and claimed that she called America a “terrible place.” Omar never made that remark.
“I’m willing to contribute to buy her a ticket to go visit Somalia and I think she can look and maybe learn a little bit about the disaster that is Somalia,” he said. “And then maybe after she’s visited Somalia for a while, she might come back and appreciate America more.”
Omar, a naturalized U.S. citizen, left Somalia with her family in 1992 amid that country’s civil war and ethnic strife. She did not directly respond to Paul, but retweeted messages in support of her, including one from actor Tom Arnold.
“Imagine being Rand Paul’s next door neighbor and having to deal with @RandPaul lying cowardly circular whiney bullcrap about lawn clippings. No wonder he ripped his toupee off,” Arnold wrote Monday. He was referring to an incident in 2017 when a neighbor tackled Paul from behind and broke his ribs over an apparent landscaping dispute.
Paul’s remark echoed the public attacks President Trump and his supporters have directed at Omar. During a rally in North Carolina earlier this month, attendees began chanting “send her back” after Mr. Trump singled out Omar.