‘We welcome everybody,' Herbert says — as he avoids talking about Trump’s Twitter attacks

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gov. Herbert speaks at a news conference about the Days of 47 festivities, on the state Capitol lawn with longhorn cattle in the background, Tuesday, July 16, 2019.

Gov. Gary Herbert delivered an optimistic message about Utah’s welcoming pioneer spirit Tuesday — but avoided the subject of President Donald Trump’s racist tweets over the weekend insulting four minority members of Congress.

At a kickoff event for the Days of ’47 Cowboy Games & Rodeo, which featured a longhorn cattle drive on the Utah state Capitol lawn, Herbert talked about how the “pioneer spirit” wasn’t reserved for people like himself, a sixth-generation Utahn.

“We have people that are first-generation, that are coming to Utah for the first time, that are also doing their own pioneering effort. Of finding ways to contribute back to society and help the community grow,” Herbert said before making a proclamation in support of the rodeo, which runs Friday through July 24, Pioneer Day.

“We welcome everybody, and that pioneering spirit continues today, and we all have roles to play,” Herbert added at the podium.

Later, Herbert deflected when a reporter asked whether Trump’s weekend tweets — in which he wrote that four Democratic members of Congress, all women of color, should “go back” to where they came from — make it hard to speak positively about immigration.

“It’s hard when we have a dysfunctional Congress,” Herbert said. “There’s plenty of blame to go around.” Herbert said leaders should encourage a workable solution to the immigration issue, “rather than pour kerosene on the fire.”

Herbert said that “we in Utah have been friendly to immigrants and refugees.” At the same time, “we do believe in the rule of law,” he said.

Three of the four congresswomen who were the target of Trump’s racist insults were born in the United States and the other is a naturalized citizen.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who appears to be Herbert’s favored successor, also declined to comment on Trump’s tweets despite his reputation for speaking out about perceived wrong.