The 29-year-old Republican seeking to oust longtime California Rep. Maxine Waters from her congressional seat in November is seizing on the Democrat’s inflammatory, anti-Trump comments to try to bolster his longshot bid.
“If Congress will not formally censure her, [then] voters have the option to vote for me in November to replace her,” GOP candidate Omar Navarro told Fox News in an email. “It is time for Maxine Waters to leave Congress.”
Waters has not backed down from her weekend comments calling for people to confront members of the Trump administration at gas stations and anywhere else they're seen in public. President Trump has accused Waters of encouraging people to “harm” his supporters – something Waters claims she did not intend.
With national attention on the controversial comments, Navarro is publicly appealing for Trump’s endorsement.
“I would love an endorsement from the man who inspired me to get in business,” Navarro tweeted Monday. “I read one book The Art of the Deal from @realDonaldTrump.”
But Navarro, a small business owner who unsuccessfully challenged Waters in 2016, is facing a steep battle in the deeply blue 43rd Congressional District. In June’s primary, Waters received nearly 45,000 votes. Navarro, who came in second place, won just over 9,000. Under the state's "jungle primary" system, both candidates advance to the general election.
Navarro portrays himself as an anti-establishment conservative. He boasts endorsements on his website from controversial Trump-aligned figures, including former national security adviser Mike Flynn, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone.
The National Republican Congressional Committee does not have plans to get involved in the contest, Fox News has learned. Still, even without national establishment backing, Navarro has been spending the last several days trying to spark interest in his campaign by drawing attention to Waters’ remarks about harassing Trump officials in public.
“If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere,” Waters said Saturday.
Waters made the comments amid the liberal backlash over the White House’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy which led to the separation of families at the border. While Trump later signed an order barring such separations, protests have continued.
In a tweet Monday, Trump said: “Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party. She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!”
Waters responded that she was speaking “truth to power” and that the “president has done a horrible thing” with his illegal immigration policies. She said she has called for peaceful protests.
“Trump is the one who is creating lies,” Waters said during a Monday afternoon news conference on Capitol Hill. “Trying to have people believe that I talked about harming people. There’s nowhere in my statement, anytime, anyplace that we talked about harm.”
She added: “Protest is the Democratic way, as long as it is peaceful. I believe in peaceful protests."
Fox News' Andrew O’Reilly and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.