Nehlen holds town hall in Janesville, agrees with Trump blaming Charlottesville violence on 'both sides'
JANESVILLE—President Donald Trump struck the "right balance” when he blamed both sides for racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, congressional candidate Paul Nehlen said Wednesday.
Nehlen, a Republican who is challenging Rep. Paul Ryan in the 1st District primary, visited Janesville on Wednesday for a town hall meeting.
He said he wants to believe last weekend's white supremacist rally started out as people thinking, “We don't want to see our history destroyed.”
Nehlen's town hall at the Armory opened with a moment of silence for Heather Heyer, the woman who died after a car drove through a crowd of protesters at the rally. The suspected driver, James Alex Fields Jr., is charged with second-degree murder.
“I don't think violence on the right or on the left is the right answer,” Nehlen told The Gazette after the town hall. “I think (Trump is) striking the right balance at this point.”
Nehlen said he firmly believes “we should not let people tear down statues,” referring to statues of Confederate war heroes that have been targeted in several states.
“Nobody would suggest that Nazis are OK, but I wouldn't suggest that it's OK for a Democrat or a Republican to go tear down statues,” Nehlen said. “ISIS tears down statues. That's not right.”
Nehlen also said he does not believe white supremacy is acceptable. He said the same of “black supremacy.”
Trump has been roundly criticized for blaming "many sides” for the violence in Charlottesville.
Ryan on Tuesday tweeted: “We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.”
The events in Charlottesville did not come up during Nehlen's town hall in front of about 20 people and an empty chair labeled “Paul Ryan.”
Questions and comments touched mostly on health care and immigration. Nehlen has called for a complete repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
One attendee asked Nehlen if he would set term limits for himself if he were elected.
Nehlen said House members should serve no more than three terms, and senators should be limited to two terms.
“I'll limit myself to those because I don't look to be a career politician,” he said.
He added Supreme Court justices should serve 16 years at most, instead of lifetime appointments.
Nehlen said he wants to hold his own event Monday in Racine to counter Ryan's scheduled town hall. Ryan's event is organized by CNN, which will decide who asks questions.