Nancy Pelosi rebuked fellow Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters on Monday for urging her supporters to confront Trump administration officials in their day-to-day lives.
The House Democratic leader's censure of her colleague highlights the difficult choices Democratic leaders face as they try to leverage energized opposition to the Trump administration and take a House majority in November's midterm elections. Pelosi has also refused to back efforts by Waters and others to impeach President Donald Trump, calling the push "divisive."
In a tweeted statement Monday referencing Waters' comments, Pelosi said that "Trump's daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable." She added: "As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea.".
Over the weekend, Waters urged her supporters to publicly confront Trump administration officials over the White House's "zero tolerance" immigration policy that has led to the separation of migrant children from parents.
"Let's make sure we show up wherever we have to show up," the California Democrat said at a rally. "And 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. We've got to get the children connected to their parents."
Trump himself responded to Waters on Monday afternoon, calling her "an extraordinarily low IQ person" and claiming that she called for "harm" of his supporters. The representative did not push for physical harm of Cabinet members.
"Be careful what you wish for Max!" the president wrote in a tweet. It was unclear what he meant by the vague comment. A spokeswoman for Waters did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
Waters' remarks followed protests over the immigration policy that drove Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen away from a dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Washington last week. A restaurant in Virginia also refused to serve White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Friday night.
GOP lawmakers such as Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., have criticized Waters' comments. Earlier, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and the National Republican Congressional Committee urged Pelosi to push back on her colleague.
The strategies outlined by Pelosi and Waters reflect differences in how the political left more broadly has reacted to the Trump administration. Waters and a handful of other lawmakers in safe, blue districts have called for the president's impeachment for months.
Democratic leaders, meanwhile, have tried to minimize discussion of impeachment ahead of the midterms. They worry in part that talk of booting Trump from office could alienate independent or Republican voters needed to win swing House districts and a House majority in November.
In May, Pelosi said the broader Democratic Party should focus more on issues of economic stability such as health-care costs.
"Unless you have bipartisan consensus, impeachment is a divisive issue in the country," the California Democrat said at the time. "Many people would think it's being done for political reasons."
She argued impeachment is "not the path [the party] should go on." Pelosi has tried to focus on an estimated increase in health-care premiums and the number of uninsured Americans under Republican health-care proposals, among other topics.