INDIANAPOLIS — Top Indiana Democrats denounced Gov. Mike Pence and the state's Republican congressional delegation Monday for remaining silent as Donald Trump continued his racist attacks on a California federal judge born and reared in East Chicago.
Former state Rep. John Aguilera, D-East Chicago, and state Democratic Chairman John Zody said the failure of Indiana Republicans to stand up for U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel when he's being "bullied" by the presumptive GOP presidential nominee "should be a wake-up call for Hoosiers."
"To describe the judge as someone foreign and not from the United States because he is of Mexican descent — Mr. Trump, you again have crossed the line," said Aguilera, a former four-term state lawmaker and two-term member of the Lake County Council.
"Gonzalo is a Hoosier. We must work together to defend one of our own."
Curiel is presiding over a class-action fraud lawsuit filed against Trump by former students at Trump University, an online real estate marketing program that shut down in 2010.
Trump claims Curiel is biased against him due to Curiel's family origins in Mexico and Trump's plans to dramatically reshape foreign policy between the United States and its southern neighbor if he's elected president.
"He's a Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico," Trump said Sunday on CNN.
National Republican leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich quickly declared Trump's remarks unacceptable.
But Pence, who recently asked a federal appeals court to permit him to bar war refugees lawfully admitted to the United States from entering Indiana based on their national origin, so far has refused to comment on Trump's attacks against Curiel.
The governor said after Trump effectively clinched the Republican nomination last month in Indiana that he plans to vote for Trump in November, notwithstanding Trump's prior claim that most Mexicans entering the United States are "criminals" and "rapists."
Indiana Republican Party Chairman Jeff Cardwell also refused to condemn Trump on Monday.
Instead, Cardwell called the plea for Hoosier unity a Democratic "stunt" aimed at distracting Indiana voters "from real issues that impact their lives."
U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Jimtown, later became the first Hoosier Republican to defend the Indiana-born judge.
"Questioning a judge's impartiality based on his ethnicity is not only inappropriate, it (also) has no place in American society," she said.