President Donald Trump said on Aug. 7 that he was “concerned about the rise of any group of hate” prior to his departure to meet with first responders and victims of the two mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas.
“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,” Trump said after he was asked about the rise of hate groups by a reporter.
President Trump: “I am concerned about the rise of any group of hate. I don’t like it…Whether it’s white supremacy, whether its 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.” pic.twitter.com/QJg4ztFMS9
— CSPAN (@cspan) August 7, 2019
Trump’s comments come days after the two massacres left over 30 people killed and dozens more injured.
The Dayton shooter, Connor Betts, who described himself as a socialist, reportedly displayed “extreme left-wing” views on his social media account, including posts in support of gun control and Antifa.
Meanwhile, the El Paso shooter, Patrick Crusius, left a manifesto that said the attack was carried out as “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Some people have tried to blame Trump for his ideology but Crusius said in the manifesto that his “opinions on automation, immigration, and the rest predate Trump.”
However, this has not stopped Trump opponents from pinning the blame on the president’s rhetoric and on gun laws they say are not restrictive enough.
On Aug. 7, Trump defended his rhetoric.
“I think my rhetoric brings people together,” Trump said. “Our country is doing incredibly well.”
The president said that in order to address gun violence, his administration could expand background checks.
“I think background checks are important,” he said. “I don’t want to put guns into the hands of mentally unstable people or people with rage or hate—sick people.”
The president said in response to another question that he thinks there is no political appetite to ban so-called “assault rifles” or weapons like the one used in the shooting in Dayton.
“You have to have a political appetite within Congress, and so far I haven’t seen that,” Trump said, but added that he will bring it up as one of the points.
However, he said, “There’s a great appetite—and I mean a very strong appetite—for background checks. I think we can bring up background checks like we’ve never had before. I think both Republicans and Democrats are getting close to a bill on doing something with background checks,” he said.
“I think there’s a great appetite to do something with regard to making sure mentally unstable, seriously ill people, aren’t carrying guns, and I’ve never seen the appetite as strong as it is now,” he said during the press conference. “I have not seen it with regard to certain types of weapons.”
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway criticized several Democratic presidential candidates in a Fox & Friends appearance on Aug. 6, saying that instead of proposing viable solutions to the issues, they are instead politicizing it and using it to blame Trump.
“The president did not respond in kind. They politicized this over the weekend. They all blamed him and I want to name and shame them now because he did not respond in kind. They want to be president? He is the president. And he is trying to bring the country together and have concrete bipartisan, bicameral steps,” Conway said during the program.
Following the mass murders, several Democratic hopefuls criticized the president for putting the blame for the shootings on mental illness and the glorification of violence instead of on guns.
Presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke, who was a former Texas congressman, told reporters after the El Paso shooting that Trump “is a racist and he stokes racism in this country.”
“And it does not just offend our sensibilities, it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence,” O’Rourke added.
Conway took the opportunity during the Aug. 6 interview to call out O’Rourke for his rhetoric, saying that it was not helpful.
“Beto O’Rourke—from the Vanity Fair magazine cover to the vanity project candidacy—out there screaming and cursing about President Trump. That doesn’t heal a single soul. That doesn’t help to prevent another mass shooting,” she said.
Trump also called out O’Rourke on Aug. 6 on Twitter, saying that the presidential hopeful should mind his own business and “be quiet” especially in light of his polling among Democratic primary voters and after what happened last time the president visited the city.
“Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O’Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1 percent in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims and law enforcement—and be quiet!” Trump wrote.
Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O’Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1% in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2019
In his speech at the White House on Aug. 5, Trump took the opportunity to denounced white supremacy: “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America.”
Conway said during the Aug. 6 interview that while Trump is denouncing white supremacy the Democrats are “out there denouncing him.”
“America, take a look at it and don’t forget it,” she said.
Epoch Times reporter Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.