Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, in his first comments to a national audience since President Donald Trump began a days-long tirade against Baltimore and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, said political leaders of all levels need to address the city’s problems.
“Instead of just focusing on the bad stuff and attacking, let’s figure out how to fix it,” Hogan, a Republican, told Fox News host Bill Hemmer on Thursday during an eight-minute segment.
Hemmer asked Hogan whether Cummings, a Democrat, is doing a good job. Hogan was measured in is response.
“I don’t think you can put all the blame in Baltimore city on Elijah Cummings, but he could do more to help,” said Hogan, sitting behind a glass desk in the Fox News studio in New York.
Cummings’ office did not respond to a request for comment on the governor’s remarks.
Cummings has said little about the criticism Trump has lobbed at him in recent days, posting one tweet that broadly defended his work in his district and as chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
In a series of tweets over the weekend, the president said Cumming’s district “is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” and called Baltimore a “very dangerous & filthy place."
Trump’s offensive against Baltimore and Cummings began early Saturday, and Hogan waited until Monday to offer his take on the president’s remarks. In an interview on WBAL-AM, Hogan criticized the tone of Trump’s tweets as “outrageous and inappropriate,” but did not call them racist, as many others have.
Hogan said Trump’s anti-Baltimore tweets may have a “silver lining” of drawing attention to challenges in Baltimore and other urban areas.
“It’s good we’re paying attention to the problems in Baltimore,” said Hogan, adding that the next step is for city, state and federal officials “to see about what we can do to work together.”
But he took a swipe at city leadership, saying that a series of mayors has “repeatedly failed to get the job done.” He did not cite any recent mayors by name.
Hogan touted aid to Baltimore in the state budget, state law enforcement officers assigned to the city, and a state program that helps demolish vacant buildings.
Hogan also praised the work of the U.S. attorney’s office, citing an announcement Thursday of federal indictments of more than 90 people on gun and drug charges in the past month.
“This is a small part of a larger effort and I want to give credit to the administration, working with us,” Hogan said.
And he cited the Trump administration’s awarding of a grant to help pay for expanding the Howard Street Tunnel so trains running through Baltimore can carry cargo containers stacked two high, the more efficient industry standard.
Democrats have argued Hogan could do more to help Baltimore. They point to his 2015 cancellation of the Red Line, a proposed east-west light rail line that the federal government had pledged $900 million to support. This summer, Hogan decided not to spend hundreds of millions of dollars Democratic legislators sought to set aside in the state budget for additional school construction, a youth summer jobs program in the city, the financially struggling Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and other Democratic priorities.
At the end of the Fox News interview, Hemmer posed a favorite question of the national media to the governor: Is he still considering a challenge to Trump in 2020?
“I never really gave it a lot of consideration,” Hogan said. He said is focused instead on his new role as chairman of the National Governors Association.
The interview was among a series of national interviews in New York for the governor following his elevation last week to head of the NGA.
He appeared on CNBC with host Kelly Evans on Thursday afternoon, discussing Trump’s announcement of new tariffs on China and a Maryland program that helps people with student loan debt become homeowners.
Hogan was scheduled to appear early Friday on “Late Night with Seth Meyers" on NBC.