United States President Donald Trump has said the four Congresswomen, whom he accused of hating the country, could go wherever they want, but they need to love the country to stay here.
Trump said it was terrible when people speak so "badly" and "horribly" about the country.
"It's my opinion they (the four Congresswomen) hate our country and that's not good. It's not acceptable," Trump told reporters during his cabinet meeting at the White House on Tuesday.
"It's up to them. Go wherever they want or they can stay. But they should love our country. They shouldn't hate our country," he said.
The response comes amid outrage over the president's comments against four Democratic progressive women -- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley -- that they hate the US and should leave.
The Democrats described this as a racist comment, charge refuted by Trump and the White House.
"You look at what they've said. I have clips right here. The most vile, horrible statements about our country, about Israel, about others," Trump said. "It's up to them to do what they want. They can leave, they can stay, but they should love our country and they should work for the good of our country."
The Republican leadership has strongly defended Trump and maintained that Trump was not a racist.
"I think there's a consensus that political rhetoric has really gotten way, way overheated all across the political spectrum," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters at the Capitol. "Lower all this incendiary rhetoric. Everyone should do it."
House Majority Leader Stoney Hoyer, meanwhile, said the remarks of Trump were racist and run counter to the nation's values.
"Our diversity makes us stronger. The president cannot and will not change that," Hoyer said. "We condemn the racist remarks of the President of the United States."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said what Trump did was "despicable".
"To divide America is not what any president has done. We have seen other presidents make these kinds of appeals a little bit sub rosa," Schumer said. "No one has been so baldly overt in the appeal to bigotry as President Trump and I think it's very bad for the country.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)