Several 2020 presidential candidates expressed condolences Sunday following a series of horrific attacks on churches, hotels, and other tourist sites in Sri Lanka.
“The Apostle Paul wrote, ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep,’” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) tweeted early Sunday morning. “On a day meant for celebration, so many families in Sri Lanka are devastated, and my heart breaks along with theirs. There’s absolutely no justification for this.”
The attacks, which took place just before 9 a.m. local time, left more than 200 people dead and at least 450 others injured. Worshippers attending Easter services at churches in Colombo, Negombo, and Batticaloa were among the victims. According to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, “several U.S. citizens” were included in the list of fatalities.
The attacks targeted the region’s minority Christian population, as well as guests staying in several luxury hotels.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) sent prayers to the victims and their families Sunday morning. “Easter is a reminder that there is hope and rebirth even in the darkest of times. We must remember that today, more than ever,” she tweeted. “I am horrified by the attacks in Sri Lanka, where so many families were celebrating such a joyous day. Praying for the victims and their loved ones.”
Harris’ comments echoed remarks she made in March, following a deadly attack on two mosques in New Zealand. At the time, Harris called for the global community to “condemn hate & speak out against intolerance.”
Easter is a reminder that there is hope and rebirth even in the darkest of times. We must remember that today, more than ever.
I am horrified by the attacks in Sri Lanka, where so many families were celebrating such a joyous day. Praying for the victims and their loved ones.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) April 21, 2019
Rep. Tusli Gabbar (D-HI) also expressed grief over the attacks.
“My heart is with Sri Lanka […],” she tweeted. “On a day devoted to love & peace, may we remember Jesus Christ’s message of love – for God & for each other – as we commit to defeating hate with love.”
My heart is with Sri Lanka on this #EasterSunday, w/hundreds killed & wounded in a horrific attack as they gathered in prayer. On a day devoted to love & peace, may we remember Jesus Christ’s message of love – for God & for each other – as we commit to defeating hate with love.
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) April 21, 2019
Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) also expressed sadness over the attacks, with Klobuchar tweeting that “religious freedom is a human right that will never be defeated by hate.”
Gillibrand tweeted separately, “No one should fear violence when they come together in worship, anywhere in the world.” In previous remarks following the New Zealand attacks, the New York senator similarly tweeted that she would not accept “a world where people are murdered because of who they are and where they worship—whether it’s mosques in Christchurch, an AME church in SC or a synagogue in PA.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), was also quick to offer his thoughts on the Easter Sunday attacks. “No person should have to fear for their life in their place of worship. We must work to bring this world together around our common humanity,” he wrote.
Our hearts go out to the victims and families of the horrific attacks in Sri Lanka. No person should have to fear for their life in their place of worship. We must work to bring this world together around our common humanity.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) April 21, 2019
Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro tweeted a message to the victims Sunday afternoon.
“On a day of redemption and hope, the evil of these attacks on Easter worshippers and tourists in Sri Lanka is deeply saddening. My prayers today are with the dead and injured, and their families. May we find grace,” he wrote.
On a day of redemption and hope, the evil of these attacks on Easter worshippers and tourists in Sri Lanka is deeply saddening. My prayers today are with the dead and injured, and their families. May we find grace.
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) April 21, 2019
Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, Beto O’Rourke, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who is expected to announce he is running this week, had not commented publicly on the attacks at the time of publication.
The only Republican running against President Donald Trump responded with a three-tweet thread, expressing shock and horror.
“Nothing can match the horror of this cold-blooded, calculating slaughter of innocents on such a holy day. The perpetrators are subhuman cowards and must be held fully accountable for the tragedy they have caused,” said former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld.
President Trump, initially tweeted his condolences to the victims of the Sri Lanka attacks Sunday morning, but mistakenly stated that 138 million people had been killed (the population of Sri Lanka is about 22 million).
President Trump tweets (then deletes) claim that 138 million people were killed in today’s Sri Lanka explosions. Our latest reporting states that the blasts killed more than 150 people, with hundreds injured. https://t.co/1zf3ns3qKG pic.twitter.com/6IL9Wq0zDn
— Jennifer Hassan (@GuinnessKebab) April 21, 2019
He deleted that tweet after 20 minutes, replacing it with one reflecting the number of deaths reported at the time. He then immediately pivoted back to defending his reputation against the revelations in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, released on Thursday.