(CNN)A Republican congressman who supported Donald Trump for president refused to defend him Thursday night after a pair of tweets led to strong criticism from both Democrats and Republicans that it was beneath the dignity of the office he holds. Rep. Lee Zeldin called the tweets “ugly” and “indefensible.”
During an interview on CNN’s “Outfront,” Zeldin told Jim Sciutto, “I’m not going to defend his tweet. It was ugly and I personally do hold the President of the United States to a higher standard.”
The New York Republican said, “The tweet he put out this morning is indefensible, but it is unfortunate that we have seen so many attacks on the part of that particular subject on this President.”
Zeldin also warned the tweets could pose problems for Trump with the people who voted for him.
“When he talks about winning and that our country will get tired of winning, you know what, that’s what people voted for,” he said. “And this morning’s tweet, I don’t know if that’s really what the American public and people who voted for him had in mind of what winning looks like.”
Zeldin said he is still rooting for Trump to be successful and suggested how he could use Twitter to his advantage.
“He does have a very effective tool — Twitter — when you have over 30 million people following you,” Zeldin said. “You could wake up in the morning and be talking about how you’re going to make the economy rip with tax reform. You can be talking about what you’re doing to help our veterans or to have a more effective foreign policy. But when you wake up in the morning and you engage on Twitter to this particular level, what happens is, the way the 24-hour news cycle works, so many missed opportunities. Instead of talking about your legislative agenda, instead people are talking about this back and forth over Twitter.”
Deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump’s tweets Thursday at the White House press briefing, saying the President “fights fire with fire” and that “when he gets attacked, he’s going to hit back.”
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