GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has chastised President Donald Trump for asserting that white nationalists and anti-racist protesters shared equal culpability for violence at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In Rubio's view, drawing any moral equivalence between the alt-right and those who opposed them would only embolden white supremacists nationwide.
On Aug. 11, members of the Ku Klux Klan, the neo-Nazi movement and the alt-right gathered in Charlottesville. The crowd brandished tiki torches and shouted racial epithets while protesting the removal of a Confederate monument, The Washington Post reports.
On Aug. 12, hundreds of white nationalists staged a rally in the college town, violently clashing with counter protesters. Tensions escalated until alt-right member James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car through a crowd of anti-racist activists, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. State troops Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Berke M. M. Bates died in a helicopter crash while monitoring the rally.
On Aug. 15, Rubio took to social media to push back on Trump's assertion that many sides were to blame for the violence that rocked Charlottesville, Axios reports.
"The organizers of the events which inspired & led to [Charlottesville terrorist attack] are 100 percent to blame for a number of reasons," Rubio tweeted out. "They are adherents of an evil ideology which argues certain people are inferior because of race, ethnicity or nation of origin."
During the nighttime protest, the white nationalists made monkey noises at African-American onlookers and chanted: "Jews will not replace us!"
"When [there is an] entire movement built on anger & hatred towards people different than you, it justifies and ultimately leads to violence against them," Rubio continued. "These groups today use SAME symbols & same arguments of [Nazi] & [KKK], groups responsible for some of the worst crimes against humanity ever."
Earlier that day, Trump stated during a White House press conference that he believed both the white nationalists and the counter protesters shared equal blame for inciting violence.
"You have a group on one side and you had a group on the other and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and horrible. ... Yes, I think there is blame on both sides," Trump said, according to The New York Times.
The president added: "You also had people that were very fine people on both sides."
Rubio, who had competed with Trump during the 2016 GOP primary, asserted that Trump had given the white nationalists a victory by equating them to anti-racist activists.
"Mr. President, you can't allow [white supremacists] to share only part of the blame," Rubio tweeted out. "They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain. The [shite supremacy] groups will see being assigned only 50% of blame as a win. We can not allow this old evil to be resurrected."
Meanwhile, Former KKK leader David Duke and white nationalist organizer Richard Spencer took to social media to praise Trump for his comments, USA Today reports.
"Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about [Charlottesville] & condemn the leftist terrorist in BLM/Antifa," Duke tweeted out.
"Trump cares about the truth," concluded Spencer.