In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Rice spoke on America’s racial divide and how Trump’s incendiary rhetoric, with notable examples like his call for four congresswomen of color (who are all U.S. citizens) to “go back” to their own countries, has played into that.
“I’ve said, and I think everyone understands, [that] I don’t like a lot of the language this president uses,” she told Zakaria. “I especially don’t like the language about immigrants.”
Rice continued: “Look, the president needs to be a lot more careful in the way that he speaks about these things because race is a very delicate and raw nerve in America. We haves a birth defect of slavery. We have a birth defect of a number of people being treated badly, so you have to be careful.”
After sparking a political dust-up with his “go back” comments earlier this year, Trump further fanned the flames when he attacked Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings and his majority-Black district in Baltimore, dubbing it a “rat and rodent infested mess.” He faced similar backlash this month when he smeared Bahamians fleeing the destruction of Hurricane Dorian, warning that some of them could be “very bad people” and “drug dealers.”
Rice, who served as national security adviser and then secretary of state in the administration of George W. Bush, argued the president isn’t solely to blame, however.
“We need to all back off,” said Rice, arguing that she’s heard equally divisive rhetoric from the left. “We need to watch our language toward one another. “We need to start applying that golden rule — do not say something about somebody that you wouldn’t want to be said about you.”
“So I think this is a national project, not just a White House project,” she explained, later adding: “If we just point fingers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, we’re not going to solve this problem.”