President Donald Trump has told reporters that he believes his rhetoric brings people together as he departed for the first of two cities devastated by mass shootings this past weekend.
He will visit Dayton, Ohio, first where a gunman killed nine people and injured more than two dozen in a rampage early on Sunday morning and then travel on to El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were killed by a gunman who also posted a hate-filled manifesto against immigrants online.
Protests are expected in both locations when the President visits.
The President left the White House earlier on Wednesday despite calls from both cities for him to stay away due to his divisive, anti-immigrant rhetoric – something the president disagreed with before pivoting to China.
“I think my rhetoric is a very … it brings people together. Our country is doing incredibly well. China is not doing well, if you look at the trade situation. “
President Trump said he was open to looking at greater background checks to stem the tide of guns flowing into the hands of disturbed people, but tempered expectations that he would lead a charge to ban the types of assault weapons, including an AK47, used in the attacks this past weekend.
“There is no political appetite for that at this moment if you look at … you can speak, you can do your own polling and there is no political appetite for it from the standpoint of the legislature. But I will certainly bring that up. I’ll bring that up as one of the points. There’s a great appetite and I mean a very strong appetite for background checks and I think we can bring up background checks like we’ve never had before. I think both Republican and Democrat are getting close to a bill on to doing something with background checks.”
He also expressed concern at the rise of white supremacy and hate in the country, and again took no personal responsibility for fermenting it and accused his detractors of criticism for political gain.
“I am concerned about the rise of any group of hate. I don’t like it. Any group of hate; whether it’s white supremacy, whether it’s any other kind of supremacy; whether it’s Antifa; whether it’s any group of hate. I am very concerned about it and I’ll do something about it.”
In an exchange on twitter overnight, the President assailed Democratic Presidential candidate and former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke.
Trump pointed to O’Rourke’s low polling numbers in the race to pick a democratic presidential nominee, saying he should respect the victims and law enforcement and be quiet.
The Congressman responded that 22 people in his hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by the President’s racism (quote) , “El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I”.