SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Mia Love met with President Donald Trump on Tuesday after blasting him last week over vulgar remarks he reportedly made about her parents' home country of Haiti as well as African nations.
But Love, who on a news program Sunday acknowledged Trump's comments as racist, apparently didn't get into that in the Oval Office meeting.
"I tried to do everything I could to stay out of what was said, what wasn't said," she said Tuesday. "This wasn't just about my parents. This was about everyone who has come here, who has worked really hard, who have taken that pledge to become a U.S. citizen."
Love, R-Utah, last week demanded Trump apologize for referring to Haiti and African nations as "s---hole countries" during a meeting on immigration reform with several senators. Trump has denied using that language.
Love, the first Haitian-American elected to Congress, didn't say whether she asked Trump directly for an apology or whether he offered one during the meeting.
The congresswoman said she talked to the president about the "urgency" to find solutions for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipients and border security, as well as policies that ensure the U.S. continues to attract the world’s top talent, "regardless of race."
Trump, she said, asked her to be part of the immigration reform discussions.
"I'm happy to do that because it's part of my responsibility to govern and produce results," she said on KSL Newsradio's "The Doug Wright Show."
Trump reportedly became angry with lawmakers last week in the Oval Office when they floated restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal. The meeting was short, tense and often dominated by loud cross-talk and swearing, according to Republicans and Democrats familiar with the meeting, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Love said there needs to be civility and respect as Congress discusses the issue.
"We need to watch how we explain our views, not get frustrated, to listen to all angles and all opinions, and come together and just talk about what we agree on," she said.
Love said she believes lawmakers can resolve the issues and pass immigration reform.
"I just wanted to make sure that we have somebody in the White House that can just focus on those policies and implement those policies that Congress and the Senate write into law and send to his desk," she said.
Love said it's important for her to put emotions aside and work hard. It's not the time for anyone to try to score political points, she said. "This is about putting our own personal gains aside and (doing) what is right for the people we represent."
On Sunday, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Love if she thought Trump’s comments were racist. After pausing, she said, “Yes.”
“I can’t defend the indefensible. There are countries that do struggle out there, but their people are good people. Their people are part of us. We’re Americans,” Love said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
After initially being silent on president’s remarks, Trump critic and likely U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney took to Twitter on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to express his dismay.
“The poverty of an aspiring immigrant’s nation of origin is as irrelevant as their race. The sentiment attributed to POTUS is inconsistent (with) America’s history and antithetical to American values. May our memory of Dr. King buoy our hope for unity, greatness (and) ‘charity for all,’” Romney tweeted.
Gov. Gary Herbert told an audience of business leaders Tuesday that Utah can lead the way toward better discussion, condemning what he called "the incivility we see" as something that "ought to be off-putting for every American."
The governor was applauded as he said it should not be tolerated.
Afterward he told reporters his comments weren't aimed only at Trump and his recent comments about immigration.
The governor said while there are different points of view about exactly what the president said in the meeting, "certainly, if that's the tone, that was not acceptable in my view."
But Herbert said he does not believe Trump is a racist.49 comments on this story
"I don't know what's in his heart, so it's hard for me to say that," Herbert said. "He may not be good at how he messages things and articulates different issues. We all know he's kind of a bull in a china shop, but I wouldn't call him a racist. I have no reason to believe he's a racist."
Americans "are a melting pot nation," the governor said. "It's who you are and not where you are from. It certainly has nothing to do with your ethnicity and background. You know, the Statue of Liberty, where we welcome the tired and the poor to our country, really should be our approach today, too."
Contributing: Lisa Riley Roche