In the wake of two mass shootings over the weekend, Mr. Trump traveled to El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, to meet with first responders and survivors. Many people called for tougher gun laws and Trump largely used the visits to attack Democrats and the media.
For most of his trip, the president stayed out of public view and held closed-door meetings at hospitals in both cities. He made brief remarks at an emergency operations center in El Paso, Texas.
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said:
‘He and Melania did the right things. It’s his job in part to comfort people. I’m glad he did it.’
Many protested Trump’s visits though. According to MSN News:
‘Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in each city to demand action on gun laws and to denounce Trump’s rhetoric, which Democrats have argued contributed to the violence in El Paso.’
Between his visits to Dayton and El Paso, Trump couldn’t resist sending a tweet storm lashing out against Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden who has been a loud voice of criticism in the aftermath of the mass shootings.
Many residents of the two cities worried that Trump’s visits would divide their grieving communities. Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley (D) said:
‘I think for the victims and for our first responders they were happy to see him, and they’ve been through an awful lot. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard on the community.
‘We’re a fragile community. We’ve just been through a lot of pain. That tension was real … and we didn’t see any of that until the president’s announcement.’
According to MSN News:
‘Trump’s presence in El Paso was particularly precarious. Democrats have widely tied the suspected gunman’s manifesto that referenced an “invasion” of Latinos to the president’s use of the term to describe the influx of migrants at the southern border and his frequent description of immigrants as “thugs” and “criminals.”‘
Prior to his visit, Democratic officials in El Paso said that Trump was not welcome in the city. An event was held to promote inclusion and unity in the border town.
Before he left Washington, Trump told reporters on Wednesday morning:
‘I think my rhetoric brings people together.’
Trump has not acted particularly presidential or taken on the role of comforter in the aftermath of any tragedy. According to MSN News:
‘Trump chided local officials in Pittsburgh who declined to meet with him in October when he visited a synagogue where a gunman killed 11 people and has generally shown an inability to refrain from hitting back at critics.’
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told Fox News:
‘He’s not doing this for people who want this job. He’s doing this because it is his job. Nobody really cares if (Democrats are) trying to use this for craven political gain. This president does what presidents do and what this president and first lady have done every single time we have a tragedy.’
Trump told reporters that he preferred to:
‘stay out of the political fray.’
‘These are people that are looking for political gain. I don’t think they’re getting it. And as much as possible, I’ve tried to stay out of that.’
Before leaving for El Paso, Trump tweeted that Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke needed to “be quiet” after he had called Trump said racist and said he should stay away from the city.
What Trump hasn’t promised on either of his visits is a plan to curb gun violence nor does he have any intention of getting Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to bring the House’s already passed legislation to a vote in the Senate.