President Donald Trump urged the nation on Monday to condemn bigotry and white supremacy after a pair of mass shootings and focused on combating mental illness over new gun-control measures in remarks delivered from the White House.
‘In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Trump said in an address from the White House, with Vice-President Mike Pence by his side. “Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul.”
His nationally televised comments followed a weekend of carnage in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, that left 31 people dead and scores wounded. The shooter in El Paso appears to have posted an anti-immigrant screed on an online message board, and authorities are seriously considering charging him with federal hate crimes.
Dee Margo, mayor of El Paso, said at a news conference later Monday that Trump will visit the city Wednesday and that he plans to meet with him.
“He is the president of the United States, so in that capacity, I will fulfill my obligation as mayor of El Paso,” Margo said. He suggested that some residents have been vocal in opposing a presidential visit, telling reporters, “I’m already getting the emails and the phone calls, and that’s why I’m saying what I’m saying now.”
On Monday morning, Trump condemned the “two evil attacks” and vowed to act “with urgent resolve.”
In his tweets, Trump said: “Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform. We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!”
Hours after Trump spoke, former president Barack Obama issued a statement calling on the country to reject words “coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders” that feed fear and hatred and normalize racist sentiments, a tacit rebuke of Trump in the wake of the shootings.
In a statement posted to his Twitter and Facebook accounts, Obama said such language has been at the root of most human tragedy, from slavery to the Holocaust to the Rwandan genocide, and “has no place in our politics and our public life.”
Trump’s televised remarks also prompted swift criticism from Democrats, who argued that he does not have a coherent plan for addressing gun violence.
Trump also reiterated his support for “red flag” measures to spot potential safety risks and dispossessing them of their weapons and confining them temporarily.