By Sam Dorman
Published July 17, 2019
The Republican National Committee is sending a not-so-subtle message to dozens of Democratic officials -- including presidential candidates and congressional leaders -- in a stated attempt to remind them of how blessed they are to live in the United States.
Seventy-three top-ranking officials are being sent an American flag alongside a copy of the United States Flag Code and a letter from the Republican Party, Fox News has learned.
"In recent weeks it has become increasingly clear that the proper respect and handling for the United States flag is an issue for the Democrat Party," RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel wrote in the letter, obtained by Fox News, which is being sent this week.
The RNC's move comes as the nation debates how to appropriately express dissent with the United States government. Protesters in Colorado, for example, recently prompted swift criticism when they removed an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility's American flag and replaced it with one from Mexico -- a response to Trump's scheduled deportation raids from the agency.
"To have our flag be taken down and have protesters put up another country's flag is just egregious," McDaniel told Fox News during a phone interview. Democrats, the RNC told Fox News, responded with "deafening silence" to attacks on the flag.
McDaniel told Fox News that the flags should serve as a wake-up call for Democrats and signal that they've been "too silent" on the issue. "This is one thing that should unite Republicans and Democrats," she said. "We shouldn't be divided on the greatness of America."
Recipients included 50 state Democratic headquarters, 19 of the Democratic candidates who qualified for the first primary debate, one to billionaire Tom Steyer, and three for top Democratic leaders -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.
"I think we want to remind them: you're blessed to live here, many Americans are patriotic, they want to see our congressional members stand for our country and stand for our flag," McDaniel told Fox News. "We're just going to give them a little gentle, kind, friendly reminder of what that means."
The RNC also pointed to the controversy surrounding the Betsy Ross flag and July 4th protests that included burning an American flag outside of the White House."The American flag is a powerful symbol of freedom and independence that many have died to protect. It deserves to be treated as such," McDaniel wrote in her letter.
“Included in this package is a new American flag and a copy of 'The Flag Code' from Title 4 of the United States Code, Chapter 1.” it said.
Long before the RNC's campaign, the president fueled an already raging debate about the American flag when he weighed in on NFL players' protests during the national anthem. In July, Trump ignited yet another media firestorm when he suggested that freshmen Democratic congresswomen didn't show enough respect for the United States.
McDaniel said she hoped those congresswomen -- Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. -- would respond by recognizing they lived in the greatest country and were blessed to have the freedoms they had.