Trump turns day of grieving for El Paso and Dayton shooting victims into day of grievances
The president’s attacks on candidates, local officials and a cable news host came amid visits to the two cities reeling from this weekend’s mass shootings.
WASHINGTON — It was intended to be a day for President Donald Trump to pay his respects to the victims of two deadly mass shootings, thank first responders and serve as consoler-in-chief.
But before he even left the White House on Wednesday for El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, the president used his bully pulpit to settle political scores and lash out against slights.
From his private residence Tuesday night, Trump mocked Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso native, for saying that the president’s “racism” was responsible for the mass shooting in Texas.
Then, after telling reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday morning that he was trying to stay out of the political fray, he sought to link the Dayton shooter to Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts because of a tweet the shooter had posted that mentioned them, though it was unclear whether he supported them.
And while flying on Air Force One between meeting with victims in Dayton and El Paso, he accused Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, of misrepresenting his visit with victims at a Dayton hospital. “Their news conference after I left for El Paso was a fraud,” He tweeted: “It bore no resemblance to what took place with those incredible people that I was so lucky to meet and spend time with.”
Speaking to reporters after the president’s hospital visit, Brown said that the president had done “the right things” during his time there, adding that some had told him privately that they were not admirers of the president, but that they had “showed respect for the office.”
“He was received well by the patients, as you’d expect. They were hurting, he was comforting,” said the senator. Both he and Whaley said they had suggested to Trump that he press for gun control legislation.
In El Paso, the president slammed both Ohio politicians. “I had it with Sherrod Brown,” he said, adding that the senator and Whaley were “very dishonest people and that’s probably why he got, I think about zero percent and he failed as a presidential candidate.”
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told the Daily Mail that Brown and Whaley were “playing up what little conversation they had [with the president], saying they made comments or demands and that’s just not true. The president allowed them to be part of the entire visit, which was very gracious of him. Their little press conference was clearly premeditated and not in the best interest of anyone but themselves. It’s a disservice to this country, and I have a real problem with that.”
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