President Donald Trump condemned political violence and called for the end of the “politics of personal destruction” at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Oct. 26.
He opened with a call on voters to support Republican candidates in the state’s two toss-up House races, Mark Harris and Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.).
Trump then took some time to address the arrest of Cesar Sayoc, the man suspected in the recent bomb scare incidents, where packages with amateurish pipe bombs were sent and delivered to prominent Trump opponents. None of the bombs exploded and some experts said they may not have been functional to begin with. Sayoc had his van plastered with pro-Trump stickers and otherwise expressed support for Trump.
“As you know, the suspect has been captured,” Trump said to loud cheers.
“These terrorist actions must be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law, we all know that,” Trump said, congratulating the law enforcement for an “incredible job.” Sayoc was arrested four days after the first package was found.
“Political violence must never ever be allowed in America and I will do everything in my power to stop it,” Trump said.
“In recent days we’ve had a broader conversation about the tone and civility of our national dialog,” he continued. “Everyone will benefit if we can end the politics of personal destruction. We must unify as a nation in peace, love, and in harmony.”
Trump then addressed the media’s role in the national dialog.
“The media’s constant unfair coverage, deep hostility, and negative attacks … only serve to drive people apart and to undermine healthy debate,” he said.
Many large left-leaning legacy media, dubbed “Fake News” by Trump, have been brutal to the president. Evening network news coverage was 92 percent negative toward him over the summer, with barely any praise of his accomplishments.
Trump specifically criticized the media for politicizing the bomb scare.
“We have seen an effort by the media in recent hours to use the sinister actions of one individual to score political points against me and the Republican party,” he said. “Yet when a Bernie Sanders supporter tried to murder congressional Republicans and severely wounded a great man named Steve Scalise and others, we did not use that heinous attempt at mass murder for political gain because that would have been wrong.”
House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was wounded together with three others on June 14, 2017, when James Hodgkinson opened fire at the Republican team practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game. Hodgkinson was a leftist activist and a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Va.), who identifies as a democratic socialist.
Even as Hodgkinson’s leanings hit the news, Trump “steered clear of the possible political motivations of the gunman” as he soberly addressed the nation after the shooting, The New York Times noted.
During his campaign, Trump flirted with encouraging violence himself on several occasions. When protesters, at least some of whom were planted by Democratic operatives, disrupted Trump’s rallies, he once told the crowd to “take them out.” On another occasion, he said his people were looking into covering legal fees for a man who punched one of the disrupters at his rally.
At the time, Trump said it was because the disrupters themselves were violent. He hasn’t repeated such calls since.
Harris and Budd
For the rest of the Friday rally, Trump focused on firing up the base before the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
He invited Harris and Budd on stage, saying they’ve run “very successful campaigns,” but adding: “Honestly, get out and vote. Let’s not take a chance.”
Harris, a former pastor, runs in the North Carolinian 9th district after defeating incumbent Robert Pittenger in the May 8 Republican primary.
He promised to “get the job done” if elected and help Trump deliver on his campaign promises.
His opponent is Democrat Dan McCready, a Marine Corps veteran and small business owner.
Budd, a gun store owner and member of the House Freedom Caucus, is running for his first reelection in the 13th district.
“Mr. President, we have your back here in North Carolina,” he said and pledged to support Trump on tax cuts, building the wall along the southern border, and “draining the swamp”—meaning purging the corruption in Washington.
His opponent is Democrat Kathy Manning, lawyer at Manning and Associates.
Prior to Trump taking the stage Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) spoke. “President Donald Trump is a disruptor, there’s no doubt about it. But he’s a positive disruptor,” he said.
Trump won North Carolina by 3.7 percent.