U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, on Tuesday called on President-elect Donald Trump to withdraw his appointment of Steve Bannon as chief White House strategist amid a rising backlash over a pick criticized as having white nationalist views.
“It’s a terrible mistake for Trump to choose a hate-monger and fear-monger like Steve Bannon as his chief strategist," Cooper said in a statement. “This makes Nixon’s Southern Strategy look like child’s play."
Cooper, a moderate Democrat from Nashville, is among a group of more than 150 Democratic congress members who has signed a letter started by Democrat Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island that urges Trump to rescind his pick.
"In your election night speech you said, 'Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division. It is time for us to come together as one united people,'” the letter reads. "Unfortunately, your appointment of Stephen Bannon, whose ties to the White Nationalist movement have been well-documented, directly undermines your ability to unite the country."
Bannon, a former executive of the right-leaning online new organization Breitbart News, signed on as an advisor to Trump during the campaign in August. Critics have pointed to the alt-right news website he previously ran as proof of hostile views toward Muslims and other minorities.
Trump faced regular criticism during the campaign for supporting policies such as mass deportations and a ban of at least some Muslim immigrants that opponents called racist and xenophobic.
Reach Joey Garrison at 615-259-8236 and on Twitter @joeygarrison. USA Today contributed to this report.