President Trump on Tuesday responded to the criticism he’s been receiving in the wake of the deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend by quoting “Fox & Friends” co-hosts, who argued that former President Barack Obama was not treated as harshly.
On Monday, Obama released a lengthy statement calling for stricter gun control while condemning “language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments.” The statement did not mention Trump by name, but was interpreted as a dig at the 45th president, whose anti-immigrant rhetoric was mimicked in a manifesto posted by the alleged shooter in El Paso.
“‘Did George Bush ever condemn President Obama after Sandy Hook,’” Trump tweeted, quoting Fox host Brian Kilmeade. “‘President Obama had 32 mass shootings during his reign. Not many people said Obama is out of Control. Mass shootings were happening before the President even thought about running for Pres.’”
“‘It’s political season and the election is around the corner,’” the president continued, this time quoting Ainsley Earhardt. “‘They want to continue to push that racist narrative.’”
After the quotes, Trump added a message from himself: “And I am the least racist person.”
On Saturday morning, a gunman killed 22 people and injured more than two dozen others at a Walmart in El Paso. Just 13 hours later, another gunman killed nine people and wounded dozens more in downtown Dayton. While officials have not conclusively determined the motives behind the attacks, the El Paso shooting is being investigated as a possible hate crime.
In his first formal statement on the killings, Trump condemned “racism, bigotry and white supremacy” while blaming the internet, video games and “mental illness” for the massacres. He also called for the nation to put aside partisan bickering.
He did not, however, mention gun control in his remarks, which were delivered via teleprompter from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, 33 hours after the shootings in Dayton.
Trump is expected to visit El Paso and Dayton on Wednesday.
During his presidency, Obama addressed the nation after mass shootings more than a dozen times, earning him the nickname consoler in chief. The day of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 26 people, including 20 children, were killed, Obama teared up while making a statement from the White House Briefing Room.
Two days later, after meeting privately with the families, he gave an emotional speech in Newtown on what he would later call the toughest day of his presidency.
“I still consider the day I traveled up to Newtown to meet with parents and address that community as the toughest day of my presidency,” Obama said in 2017. “It’s the only time I ever saw Secret Service cry.”
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