WASHINGTON – Two Arizona lawmakers will join dozens of Democrats who plan to boycott Friday’s inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, saying they will spend time with constituents instead of the man they said ran a polarizing campaign.
Democratic Reps. Raul Grijalva of Tucson and Ruben Gallego of Phoenix would be among at least 48 House and Senate Democrats, at last count, who have announced plans to skip the swearing-in.
“Everybody’s been waiting for Donald Trump to rise to the position that he was elected to, and at this point, I don’t see him respecting the full responsibility of the presidency of the United States,” Grijalva said Tuesday. “Until he does that, I think that questions about his legitimacy and his capacity to live up to the position will continue.”
Grijalva announced his intention to skip the inauguration last week in a speech on the floor of the House but many, like Gallego, made the decision after Trump took to Twitter to criticize Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia. The civil rights icon had questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency and said he would skip the inauguration.
Trump responded by calling Lewis “all talk, talk, talk, no action or results” and said in a series of tweets that the Georgia congressman should focus on helping his “crime-infested” district that Trump said is in “horrible shape and falling apart.”
Gallego said in social media posts Tuesday that Trump “embodies the worst impulses and bigotries.” He pointed to Trump’s long campaign to prove that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. and his criticism of a Muslim family whose son died serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq.
“We need look no further than his birther conspiracies and his attacks on Gold Star parents and civil rights heroes,” Gallego said on Twitter. “I will not attend his inauguration.”
Others in the delegation said they would attend, however, even though they have disagreed with Trump in the past.
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, called Lewis her “hero,” but said she still felt an obligation to attend Friday’s events.
“I am going to attend the inauguration because I believe it is my job and my duty as a member of Congress,” Sinema said in a statement released by her office Tuesday. “John Lewis is my hero. I respect his decision, and I am deeply disappointed by attacks against him.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, also plans to attend, despite feuding publicly with Trump during the campaign and vowing not to vote for him.
“Sen. Flake doesn’t play politics with the peaceful transfer of power,” Flake spokesman Jason Samuels said in a statement. “Donald Trump won the election and Sen. Flake’s belief is that we should assume the best and look for the good.”
But while Grijalva said he respects the office, he does not respect the man elected to fill it, which is why he is refusing to attend the inauguration.
“The issue is respect,” Grijalva said. “The presidency is the most powerful position in the world and the most respected elected position in the country and I respect that.
“I understand it is a peaceful transition of power, but the fact remains that I think whoever the president is, they must rise to the occasion and to what the mantle of the presidency is,” Grijalva said. “We haven’t seen that yet with him.”
Grijalva said he thinks a better use of his time on Friday will be to meet with “constituents who are under siege in terms of what this president and his appointees want to do.” While Trump is talking in Washington, he said he would be meeting with voters to talk about the Affordable Care Act, education issues, immigration and Social Security.