Trump visits the grieving, and stokes divisions

click to enlarge President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, leaves after delivering a statement at the White House on Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, about the twin mass shootings over the weekend. Trump forcefully denounced white supremacy in the wake of the shootings, citing the threat of “racist hate” with no acknowledgement that his own anti-immigrant rhetoric has become part of a national debate. - DOUG MILLS/THE NEW YORK TIMES
Doug Mills/The New York Times
President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, leaves after delivering a statement at the White House on Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, about the twin mass shootings over the weekend. Trump forcefully denounced white supremacy in the wake of the shootings, citing the threat of “racist hate” with no acknowledgement that his own anti-immigrant rhetoric has become part of a national debate.
By Mitch Smith and Michael D. Shear
New York Times News Service

DAYTON, Ohio — President Donald Trump began a day set aside for healing in Dayton and El Paso by lashing out against his political rivals and the news media, employing the kind of divisive language that prompted protests in both cities

He mocked Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic candidate for president who once represented El Paso in Congress, for having a “phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage” and he linked the Dayton shooter to liberal politicians. Later, in comments to reporters, Trump repeated attacks on unauthorized immigrants and called another Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, “a pretty incompetent guy” who has “truly lost his fastball.”

The president held back from making any further public statements once he arrived in Dayton on Wednesday morning, visiting privately with families and victims of the city’s weekend massacre as well as emergency and hospital workers. But even as his spokeswoman said the event was never designed as a photo op, Dan Scavino, the president’s social media director, posted on Twitter pictures from inside Miami Valley Hospital. “The President was treated like a Rock Star inside the hospital, which was all caught on video,” he tweeted. “They all loved seeing their great President!”


Nan Whaley, the Democratic mayor of Dayton, and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, joined Trump on the visit to the hospital and said they each pressed the president to take more aggressive action to pass gun control legislation after the shootings in the two cities, which left 31 people dead.

Brown said Trump “was received as well as you can expect by the patients.”

But in a news conference soon after Trump departed Dayton for El Paso, Whaley added: “I’m not holding my breath. Too often we see inaction, because they’re waiting just for time, to forget that nine people died in Dayton because of a gun that shouldn’t be legal, frankly.”

Trump’s visit was also met with small groups of protesters who gathered to say that he was not welcome in their community, waving signs that said “Dump Trump” and “Do Something!” The protesters were met by counterdemonstrators.

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