Asked to Defend Founding Fathers, VP Contender Ducks

July 5, 2020

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D., Ill.) on Sunday refused to defend the legacies of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson from protesters who want to tear down the statues of the Founding Fathers, saying instead that politicians should "listen to everybody."

"We should start off by having a national dialogue," Duckworth said when asked about the issue on CNN's State of the Union. "I think we should listen to everybody. I think we should listen to the argument there."

Duckworth added that Mount Rushmore, which bears the likenesses of Washington and Jefferson, "stand[s] on ground that was stolen from Native Americans, who had actually been given that land during a treaty."

The Illinois senator's comments come after weeks of protests following the death of George Floyd, during which statues of Washington, Jefferson, Christopher Columbus, and figures of the Confederacy have been torn down by protesters. Some have even torn down progressive monuments.

Mount Rushmore was also singled out last week as President Trump traveled to South Dakota to deliver a speech and hold a fireworks display before the Fourth of July. The Democratic National Committee tweeted that the event was meant to "glorify white supremacy." The New York Times also published an article highlighting Mount Rushmore's "history of contention," focusing on racist or nativist remarks made by the four presidents represented on the national monument.

Breaking with the more progressive wing of his party, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden recently defended the legacies of Washington, Jefferson, and Columbus against protesters who would see statues of the figures torn down.

"Taking down, toppling the Christopher Columbus statue or the George Washington statue, I think that is something that the government has an opportunity and a responsibility to protect from happening," he said.

Biden is heavily considering Duckworth as a potential running mate.