Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox could not sleep early Wednesday because he was angry about the U.S. government separating children from immigrants trying to cross the border illegally. So he griped about it in a string of emotional tweets.
They went viral, and stories about the high-profile Republican attacking a Republican policy soon appeared in international news media including the Washington Post, Politico, the Hill, BuzzFeed and the Business Insider of London.
“Can’t sleep tonight. I know I shouldn’t tweet. But I’m angry. And sad,” Cox posted at 1:24 a.m. “I hate what we’ve become. My wife wants to go & hold babies & read to lonely/scared/sad kids. I want to punch someone. Political tribalism is stupid. It sucks & it’s dangerous. We are all part of the problem.”
The Republican, who has never been shy about criticizing President Donald Trump, followed up with more tweets.
“Some in my party are doing and supporting things I never thought possible,” he posted. “We get what we deserve. If we want change, we have to change ourselves.”
Cox, who served an LDS Church mission in Mexico and has spoken out for its immigrants, urged in another post, “Ask ‘how would I react if the other party did this’ before forming an opinion. Get to know, listen to & love someone different. Elect people that don’t care about getting re-elected. Run for office.”
Cox has said he is looking at running for governor in 2020, but also has stressed that he won’t compromise his values to win — and is fine if voters choose someone else.
By the time Cox woke up in the morning, his initial tweet was going viral. Thousands of people had reposted it, and it received tens of thousands of “likes.”
“Wow. I woke up to a lot of people feeling pain & anger. LOVE YOU ALL! I know my party owns this. POTUS can stop this now. Congress must work together. Gov. Herbert & I are doing everything we can. We must lift the hands that hang down, reunite & mend the broken hearts,” he wrote.
The Hill posted an early-morning story about how Utah’s lieutenant governor “wants to punch someone” over separating families. The Washington Examiner did, too. It was mentioned in Bustle and BuzzFeed. A Washington Post story mentioned what it called Cox’s “particularly emotional tweet.”
Social media was also buzzing about it.
“Spry Guy” responded to Cox, saying, “I think it’s time you joined Steve Schmidt and officially left the Republican Party. Join the Democrats and help us remove Trump and Trumpism from our government.”
Sachra Iskra told him, “If your wife organizes a caravan to go and hold babies and read to kids, I’m in, and I know a lot of my friends are, too.”
But Bill Kroenung attacked Cox, saying, “Your party has embraced [Trump] and enabled him. This is happening not as a result of Tribalism — it’s because of Republicanism. Don’t pass it off on all of us. This is you.”
“Indigo Grits” tweeted, “You give us hope by standing up and speaking out. … This evil has to be stopped.”
It’s not the first time that Cox has attracted national attention for taking what are seen as unusual stands for a Republican.
A 2016 video of him urging kindness for the LGBT community and apologizing for his own mistreatment of gays went viral. He attracted widespread attention earlier this year for saying that Trump’s attack on NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem was “diabolically brilliant.”