Republicans Bash Obama for Saying Ho Chi Minh was ‘Inspired’ by Founding Fathers
President Barack Obama’s comments from a meeting with Vietnam President Truong Tan Sang last week, in which he said a prominent Communist and American enemy during the Vietnam War was inspired by the Founding Fathers, is drawing Florida Republicans’ fire.
After meeting with Sang Thursday, Obama addressed reporters about what they talked about.
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“At the conclusion of the meeting, President Sang shared with me a copy of a letter sent by Ho Chi Minh to Harry Truman,” Obama told the media. “And we discussed the fact that Ho Chi Minh was actually inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson. Ho Chi Minh talks about his interest in cooperating with the United States. And President Sang indicated that even if it’s 67 years later, it’s good that we’re still making progress.”
Ho Chi Minh served as the president of Communist North Vietnam from 1945 until his death in 1969. During much of that period, as it looked to create a unified Communist Vietnam, North Vietnam was at war with the United States. The letter Sang showed Obama came from September 1945 when Ho Chi Minh looked to end French colonialism in Vietnam and replace it with a Communist state.
Prominent Florida Republicans quickly jumped all over Obama’s remarks.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., whose family fled Communist Cuba, replied, “My husband Dexter is a Vietnam combat veteran who was severely injured in battle while fighting for the ideals of Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Madison and Washington.
“For the president of the United States, who has sworn to preserve, protect and defend their ideals that founded this nation, to equate Ho Chi Minh to Thomas Jefferson is an insult to the service and sacrifice of all of those who served in Vietnam,” she said Friday. “Saying that a butcher who slaughtered his opponents and butchered those who resisted his tyranny was inspired by the ideals that make this nation the freest and most democratic country in the world belittles our Founding Fathers and those who shed blood to protect their vision.”
Former Congressman Allen West, a favorite of the tea party movement, also took aim at Obama. West, who served in the Army and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, has opened the door to a political comeback in 2016.
“My older brother was a Vietnam Marine wounded in a shelling at Khe Sanh,” West posted on Facebook Friday. “I find it perplexing and disturbing that our current commander-in-chief would refer to Ho Chi Minh as being ‘inspired’ by our American founders. The individuals who inspired Ho were Karl Marx and Joseph Stalin. I shudder to think President Obama regards them as our founders. Regardless, an apology is due to our men and women who served in the Vietnam War. I would have taken a walk with the new Vietnamese president over to the Vietnam War Memorial and made him see every name on that wall.”
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.