Protesters chant as Trump visits Dayton, El Paso

President Donald Trump speaks to the media Wednesday as he visits the emergency operations center after meeting with people affected by the El Paso mass shooting in Texas.

EL PASO, Texas — Aiming to play the traditional role of healer during national tragedy, President Donald Trump paid visits Wednesday to cities reeling from mass shootings that left 31 dead and dozens more wounded. But his divisive words preceded him, large protests greeted him and biting political attacks soon followed.

The president and first lady Melania Trump flew to El Paso late in the day after visiting the Dayton, Ohio, hospital where many of the victims of Sunday’s attack in that city were treated. For most of the day, the president was kept out of view of the reporters traveling with him, but the White House said the couple met with hospital staff and first responders and spent time with wounded survivors and their families.

Trump told them he was “with them,” said press secretary Stephanie Grisham. “Everybody received him very warmly. Everybody was very, very excited to see him.” Trump said the same about his reception in the few moments he spoke with the media at a 911 call center in El Paso.

But outside Dayton’s Miami Valley Hospital, at least 200 protesters gathered, blaming Trump’s incendiary rhetoric for inflaming political and racial tensions in the country and demanding action on gun control. Some said Trump was not welcome in their city. There were Trump supporters there as well.

In El Paso, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke spoke to several hundred people at a separate gathering. O’Rourke, a potential Democratic 2020 presidential rival, has blistered Trump as a racist instigator but also told those in his audience the open way the people of his hometown treat each other could be “the example ot the United States of America.”

Emotions are still raw in both cities in the aftermath of the weekend shootings. Critics contend Trump’s own words have contributed to a combustible climate that has spawned death and other violence.

The vitriol continued Wednesday.

Trump’s motorcade passed El Paso protesters holding “Racist Go Home” signs. And Trump spent part of his flight between Ohio and Texas airing his grievances on Twitter, berating Democratic lawmakers, O’Rourke and the press. It was a remarkable split-screen appearance for TV viewers, with White House images of handshakes and selfies juxtaposed with angry tweets.

Trump and the White House have forcefully disputed the idea that he bears some responsibility for the nation’s divisions. And he continued to do so on Wednesday.

“My critics are political people,” Trump said as he left the White House, noting the apparent political leanings of the shooter in the Dayton killings. He also defended his rhetoric on issues including immigration, claiming instead that he “brings people together.”

Some 85% of U.S. adults believe the tone and nature of political debate has become more negative, with a majority saying Trump has changed things for the worse, according to recent Pew Research Center polling. And more than three quarters, 78%, say that elected officials who use heated or aggressive language to talk about certain people or groups make violence against those people more likely.

In Dayton, raw anger and pain were on display as protesters chanted “Ban those guns” and “Do something!” during Trump’s visit.

Holding a sign that said “Not Welcome Here,” Lynnell Graham said she thinks Trump’s response to the shootings has been insincere.

“To me he comes off as fake,” she said.

Dorothee Bouquet, stood in the bright sun with her 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, tucked in a stroller. She told them they were going to a protest “to tell grown-ups to make better rules.”

But in El Paso, where more protests awaited, Raul Melendez, whose father-in-law, David Johnson, was killed in Saturday’s shooting, said the most appropriate thing Trump could do was to meet with relatives of the victims.

“It shows that he actually cares, if he talks to individual families,” said Melendez, who credits Johnson with helping his 9-year-old daughter survive the attack by pushing her under a counter. Melendez, an Army veteran and the son of Mexican immigrants, said he holds only the shooter responsible for the attack.

“That person had the intent to hurt people, he already had it,” he said. “No one’s words would have triggered that.”

Local Democratic lawmakers who’d expressed concern about the visit said Trump had nonetheless hit the right notes Wednesday.

“He was comforting. He did the right things and Melania did the right things. It’s his job to comfort people,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, who nonetheless said he was “very concerned about a president that divides in his rhetoric and plays to race in his rhetoric.”

“I think the victims and the first responders were grateful that the president of the United States came to Dayton,” added Mayor Nan Whaley, who said she was glad Trump had not stopped at the site of the shooting.

“A lot of the time his talk can be very divisive, and that’s the last thing we need in Dayton,” she said.

Grisham, responding on Twitter from aboard Air Force One, sad it was “genuinely sad” to see the lawmakers “immediately hold such a dishonest press conference in the name of partisan politics.”

Despite protests in both cities, the White House insisted Trump had received positive receptions. One aide tweeted that Trump was a “rock star” at the Dayton hospital.

The White House did not allow reporters and photographers to watch as he talked with wounded victims, medical staff and law enforcement officers there, but then quickly published its own photos on social media and released a video of his visit.

There was discord in El Paso, too. Rep. Veronica Escobar, the Democratic congresswoman who represents the city, declined to meet with Trump. “I refuse to be a prop,” she said in an interview on CNN.

Visits to the sites of mass shootings have become a regular pilgrimage for recent president, but Trump, who has sometimes struggled to project empathy during moments of national tragedy, has stirred unusual backlash.

Though he has been able to summon soothing words and connect one-on-one with victims, he often quickly lapses into divisive tweets and statements — just recently painting immigrants as “invaders,” suggesting four Democratic congresswoman of color should ”go back” to their home countries even though they’re U.S. citizens and deriding majority-black Baltimore as a rat-infested hell-hole.

As the presidential motorcade rolled up to a 911 center in El Paso, it passed a sign aimed at Trump that said “Racist go home.”

Elsewhere in the city, O’Rourke told several hundred people that his hometown “bore the brunt” of hatred from the shooting but could also hold an answer to the strife.

“The way that we welcome one another and see our differences not as disqualifying or dangerous but as the very source if our strength, as the foundation of our success — that needs to be the example of the United States of America,” O’Rourke said.

On the eve of his trip, Trump lashed out at O’Rourke, who had tweeted that Trump “helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible” and “should not come to El Paso.”

O’Rourke “should respect the victims & law enforcement — & be quiet!” Trump snapped back.

And on his flight between one scene of tragedy and the second, Trump said he turned in as another 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, excoriated him in a speech that slammed him as incapable of offering the moral leadership that has defined the presidency for generations and “fueling a literal carnage” in America.

Trump declared the speech “Sooo Boring!” and warned that, “The LameStream Media will die in the ratings and clicks” if Biden wins.

———

Associated Press writer John Seewer contributed to this report. Colvin reported from Washington.

———

Follow Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(51) comments

Russian

Why did poor white America elect a wealthy con man president?



Why door poor parishioners stuff the pockets of wealthy ministers?



A forked tongue can convince a shallow mind to do anything.


rikkitikkitavvi

Time for Hope and Change you can believe in?



Because they are sheeple (being led to slaughter) and do what they are told to do by people that have the snake oil salesman ideology of supposed true moderates that pull it off quite effectively for the democrat party.



You got that Right russ



I should have

Johndoe1

Why did Beto O’Rourke laugh after the mass shooting happened?

https://youtu.be/v7eRx5oUc2I

rikkitikkitavvi

He will get the 16th back when he drops off the Presidential candidate checker board. It was his former District of old El Paso

rdavis67

It’s called coping with tragedy. Showing emotion. I’ve laughed when distraught. I’ve laughed when enraged. That’s been a conspiracy right wingers have really tried to push. It’s just nonsensical to anyone who has ever felt deep sadness, or to any psychologists.

awteam2000

No comments of Trump’s merits? Just chastising of others. And outright jealousy of Obama. Racism is a ugly world. It doesn’t offer much opportunity to be proud of.

Trump is only a manifestation of who we are. That’s why we twist ourselves into knots excusing his hateful racist actions. We simply don’t want to ‘look in the mirror’ and see ourselves, then we would have to admit we too are ugly racist. So we continue to twist every ounce of decency, moral values out of reality until we have no more. 🤷‍♂️

You can hear the last of decency being squeezed out by the nonsensical comments made by several in this thread.

rikkitikkitavvi

Very deep aw. I hope you were looking in the mirror as you were reciting it. Mirror, mirror on the wall awsteam knows what's Right for all.

awteam2000

You do understand the pronoun “we” means?

rikkitikkitavvi

No aw. What? Enlighten this poor old Irredeemable Deplorable.

DickD

Aw I don't think ric does. ..Just look at his comment below.

Russian

Non whites are America’s consumer engine once they lose confidence the entire economy will collapse. It’s starting now don’t believe me look at how many new 2018 vehicles are still available, look at how many homes aren’t selling.


Johndoe1

Why are you implying that minorities are not able to purchase homes and cars. That is real racism right there, just like you racist leftist liberals said that minorities are too stupid to get IDs and won’t be able to vote if voter id laws are put in place. I mean how stupid and racist are you leftists really? You keep taking the bait and your true colors are starting to really show, I think you guys should change your party color from blue to white, it would truly suit your party better when we look at both history and facts today.

Russian

Hi Comrade I’m also a Russian but I’m freelancing not with the GRU.


Johndoe1

First off I’m obviously not Russian and second of all neither are you, you are most likely white, skinny and lacking sunlight from living in your parents basement and covering your face with bandanas to attend your violent leftist protests! Grow a pair and start living in the real world ❄️!

rikkitikkitavvi

Приветствуйте Товарища! Тому, что мы должны удовольствие вашего вмешательства для Клинтона? Она проиграла в 2016 так или иначе, Вы знаете. Попробуйте еще раз в 2020

Johndoe1

The globalists are not after Trump, they’re after us, Trump is just in their way! News reporting should be about gathering facts, not promoting an agenda! Watch Beto speak after the shooting happened, what’s so funny about 20+ people dead?

https://youtu.be/v7eRx5oUc2I

Johndoe1

Would all you liberals be happier if Trump laughed after we had a mass shooting? Because Senor Beto O’Rourke laughed and all you liberals were ok with that! Disgusting!

https://youtu.be/v7eRx5oUc2I

rdavis67

That won’t stick. He was holding back tears, and trying to cope. You may be worried about him beating your president, but Beto is a good man, and an example of the opposite of trump.

Russian

White people used to be tolerant of law abiding minorities in America under Trump many now believe they can exterminate them at will I hope these people have a wonderful 8/8.

Johndoe1

The democrats are the one trying to exterminate law abiding minorities, ever since they started the KKK and still financially support segregationists to this day! The Democratic Party is the party of racism, slavery, mass deportations, and infanticide! And if you happen to wonder why democrats have been so on edge lately it’s because they can’t go blow off some steam at their buddy Epstein’s island with some 12 year old kids! The trenches are in place and the swamp is ready to be drained, standby! #wwg1wga

Comment deleted.
Johndoe1

You keep telling yourself that dick, it still won’t make it true!

Comment deleted.
rikkitikkitavvi

Hey Dick, Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't. There are nuts on both sides.

rikkitikkitavvi

You would be speaking about the former American administration under Obama the divider and chief who pitted black against white every chance he got. His mayor of Chicago lamented "never let a good disaster go to waste.



Вы говорили бы о прежней американской администрации при Обаме сепаратор и руководителя, который делал ямки черный против белых всех шансов, которые он получил. Его мэр Чикаго жаловался, 'никогда не позволяют хорошему бедствию идти, чтобы пропасть впустую.

KR999

".....noting the apparent political leanings of the shooter in the Dayton killings." This is a perfect example of the irresponsibility of the one sided, biased, Lame Stream Media with no mention of the fact that that shooter was a Sanders/Warren supporter. The gist of this whole story is about Trump protesters, with barely a fleeting mention that there were supporters of him at both cities, and this is the kind or reporting that thoroughly disgusts me. Trump 2020!

FCPS-Principal

I agree. No doubt the critics have not read the part of the racist's little manifesto that describes how he favors socialized medicine for the poor, fairer tax laws and a path to citizenship for the Dreamers. It's all right there in black and white, right before he describes how Latinos must be killed to preserve the white race!

FCPS-Principal

You must have read Faux News's version of the manifesto.

Samanthapowers

he can read?

awteam2000

Johndoe1’s comment at 8:11am is a perfect example of what I was referring to in my 8:45 am comment. I hope the FNP doesn’t delete it. This is a perfect example of the loss of decency.

Samanthapowers

There’s the psycho Jon dough brain. Your mind is mush, old timer.

Samanthapowers

You’re a classic bully, cs. I may take shots but never the mean, really nasty things you, dough, sickly write. You adorable snowflakes are so cute with your delicate feelings.

Samanthapowers

ever had your own original thoughts or ideas, cs? or you just recycle what others say? seems the latter.

Samanthapowers

Dough I don’t cry. You guys make me laugh b cause all it takes is a little prodding and you can’t contain yourself so reveal the cretin you truly are. Have a blessed day!

awteam2000

You don’t know the difference between a jest and obscenities?🤦‍♂️

awteam2000

You think you engage in intelligent thought? Interesting.

rbtdt5

AW - thinks that telling someone to play with the working end of a gun, or wishing harm on them is a jest. Interesting humor you have aw.

rikkitikkitavvi

@faker You must have read the chyron of every alphabet soup news station as you flipped through them for your daily true moderate talking points.

DickD

If Trump keeps it up he might as well not run again for POTUS.

FCPS-Principal

Nobody will run against him in the primaries, so he will run.

DickD

I think someone is running against Trump, in the primary.

BunnyLou

If you haven’t noticed, the 32000 demo candidates for president are so far left you’ve had to change the margins. Do you honestly think that America is ready for what you and your type want to do to it?

DickD

You are right, we don't want Medicare for all, can't afford it either. We don't want retribution for slavery and there's no way to know who would deserve it. We don't want forced busing of our children.



MOST OF ALL, WE DON'T WANT DONALD TRUMP. If there's a choice between Progressives and Trump, Progressives win.

rdavis67

Many aren’t for Medicare for all. Like Beto, for example, is for Medicare for America. Which lets you enroll in Medicare if you are uninsured, unhappy with your insurance, or if you want to. People happy with their insurance can keep it. Sheila Lee Jackson’s reparations Bill is to open up a discussion, it wouldn’t just start payments. There are really only two “far left” candidates, and a few that follow most of their policy. Beto is not for decriminalizing border crossing either. Just making the path to citizenship easier, rewriting our immigration laws in our own image. As a country of immigrants. While still being able to prosecute people for human trafficking and drug smuggling. There’s a lot to look into. And I feel like you’d like at least some of it!

Russian

If he wasn’t pro Russian and a racist he wouldn’t be appealing to 80% of republicans so why should he change?

Russian

Trump won 19% of the Latino vote in Texas in 2016 if he doesn’t maintain or increase that level of support he’ll lose Texas in 2020

DickD

He might as well quit now, then . He will b lucky to get 1% of the Latino vote.

Johndoe1

Such political experts you fellas are! Lol! 🇺🇸

DickD

Envy if you want. Better yet listen and learn. [tongue_smile]

Johndoe1

🤔😂🤦‍♂️🤫

rikkitikkitavvi

The fnp liberal, we can add progressive now, crew are running in circles biting their own tails.

rikkitikkitavvi

Aren't they John? Warms the soul to see them melting day by day. The 2020 General election will prove to be the year that liberal tears wash away all the snowflakes.

rikkitikkitavvi

Only in da dim dem strongholds.

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