As controversy over the president’s Sunday tweet was heating up on Monday afternoon, Sen. Steve Daines, who's up for reelection in 2020, tweeted, “Montanans are sick and tired of listening to anti-American, anti-Semite, radical Democrats trash our country and our ideals. This is America. We’re the greatest country in the world. I stand with realdonaldtrump."
The post referenced a tweet from the president calling for four freshmen Democratic House members to, “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." Trump’s series of tweets incorrectly states the women of color all came from other countries. Three were born in the United States and all four are American citizens.
Within two hours, Daines’ post garnered more than 4,000 likes and nearly 8,000 comments. Merriam-Webster would call those metrics — when the number of comments, mostly negative, vastly outweigh likes in support — "getting ratioed."
Many comments, including some from Montanans, called Daines racist.
Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins, a Liberian refugee who’s vying for the Democratic nomination to challenge Daines in 2020, tweeted, “I served this country for over 20 years in the U.S. Armed Forces. Does SteveDaines think I should 'go back to where I came from' too?”
Collins later posted a video recounting one of his early days in Montana, when he says a vandal spray-painted on his door, “Go back to Africa.”
"This kind of behavior is inevitable from vandals in the night, or anonymous online commenters, but not from a U.S. Senator," Collins said.
Collins is calling on Daines to apologize for questioning the loyalty of the four Democratic Representatives.
John Mues, a veteran and engineer from Loma also seeking the Democratic nod, called Daines a, "divider whose policies weaken America", and likened him to regime leaders in North Korea and Saudi Arabia.
The post fared a bit better on Facebook, albeit with fewer interactions. One commenter there thanked Daines for his loyal support for the president and for sticking up for America.
Daines’ Tweet is also catching attention in real life. Yellowstone Public Radio reporter Olivia Reingold spoke with Billings gunsmith Jerome Hall, a veteran who describes himself as a Trump supporter and who doesn’t take the president’s tweets too seriously. As for Daines’ tweet:
"I actually saw that today and I was reading that a lot of Montanans are saying that Daines needs to be kicked out and people don’t want him reelected. He's doing what he was hired to do by the people of Montana. The people that voted him in are now the ones saying he needs to leave because he supports Trump. All because he supports Trump. If it would have been a different candidate, then, if Hillary would have posted that everybody would be freaking out cheering her on."
Olivia Reingold: Daines is up for reelection. Does this tweet, did he already have your support? Does this tweet change anything?
"I haven't decided on who I'm voting for yet," Hall says. "I want to look into their stances on other stuff. Social media is social media. Everybody takes it as the word of god, and it's not. I post stupid stuff on Facebook all the time and that's because it's funny. I'm more worried about what he plans on spending the budget on. That’s what I'm looking at. Where is he putting the money for the state? Is it going to stupid stuff, is it going to make the state better? Everything like that."
By Tuesday evening, Twitter likes for Daines’ tweet, at 53,000, outnumbered comments at 26,000.
A fundraising letter from the Montana Republican Party sent Tuesday morning features the tweet.
Potential Democratic challengers Wilmot Collins and John Mues are also using it to leverage donations.
A spokesperson for Daines wrote to Yellowstone Public Radio that Americans agree with Daines’ take and that he values feedback from all Montanans.
Late Monday afternoon Montana’s Democratic Sen. Jon Tester tweeted, "We should be able to disagree on policy and politics without devolving into divisive, hateful rhetoric. President Trump’s comments were reprehensible and far beneath the office of the presidency."
By Tuesday afternoon that tweet had garnered 1,300 likes.