Senator Chuck Grassley

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is doing his best to straddle a very thin line as to whether President Trump’s tweet on Sunday about four Democratic women in Congress was racist.

Grassley was asked about the president’s tweet, which said the four black, Muslim or Hispanic women should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Grassley did not specifically call the comment racist, but did address the topic.

“Racism is wrong,” Grassley says. “I think the American people deserve more civility in their politics. I hope I promote civility. If I haven’t, I ought to be called out for it.” Democrats in the U.S. House say they’ll pass a resolution condemning the president’s tweet as racist.

Grassley, a Republican, is remaining on the fence. “Democratic elected officials should avoid name-calling,” Grassley says. “Everybody ought to be treated respectfully. That’s true of these members of Congress and that’s true of the president.”

Reports say Iowa’s other U.S. Senator, Republican Joni Ernst, when asked Monday if she thought Trump’s comment was racist, said, “Yeah, I do.” Later, Ernst was asked by a CNN reporter to repeat her statement as to whether the comment was racist. She responded, “Uh, yeah. They’re American citizens,” and called the president’s comment “not constructive” and “not helpful.”

The president’s tweet targeted New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib and Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. Omar is the only one of the four who was born outside the U-S. She came here as a refugee from Somalia as a child.