Trump describes visit to city of mass shooting as ‘warm and wonderful’

Biden accuses president of ‘fanning flames of white nationalism’ after recent mass shootings

Protests overshadowed Donald Trump's visit to the cities of Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas on Wednesday as the US president met survivors of two weekend mass shootings that left 31 people dead.

Mr Trump, accompanied by his wife Melania, visited survivors at a hospital in Dayton, though he did not visit the site of the attack, in which nine people died on Sunday.

He then moved on to El Paso, a city on the Mexican border where a gunman opened fire in a Walmart store on Saturday killing 22 people.

Much of the visit was conducted in private, with Mr Trump declining to speak publicly on his arrival to either city.


However, protests took place in both with demonstrators holding signs and a Trump “baby blimp” outside the hospital in Dayton as Mr Trump met patients.

The president described the visit to Dayton as "warm and wonderful" and accused Ohio senator Sherrod Brown and Dayton mayor Nan Whaley, both Democrats, of "totally misrepresenting" his visit to the hospital when they held a press conference shortly after he departed for Texas.


“Their news conference after I left for El Paso was a fraud. It bore no resemblance to what took place with those incredible people that I was so lucky to meet and spend time with,” he tweeted from Air Force One.

There are, despite his visits to the cities, few signs of any significant legislative efforts from Republicans to tackle gun crime.

As he left Washington, Mr Trump said there was “no political appetite” for banning assault rifles, though he suggested that he could be open to background checks, returning to an idea he floated in a tweet on Monday.

However, Senate Republicans have shown no signs that they intend to take up legislation passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year which would introduce federal background checks. They are instead focusing on so-called “red flag” laws which would try and prevent people with mental health difficulties from acquiring weapons.

Mr Trump also accused critics who have denounced his use of incendiary language as “people who are looking for political gain”.

"I think my rhetoric brings people together," he told reporters outside the White House.

‘Fanning the flames’

Several candidates in the Democratic presidential race spoke out against Mr Trump on Wednesday. At an event in Iowa, former vice president Joe Biden accused the president of “fanning the flames of white nationalism” as he denounced Mr Trump’s “incompetence” and “immorality”.

Mr Trump, who was in the air en route from Dayton to El Paso as Mr Biden’s speech was carried live on TV, tweeted that he was watching “Sleepy Joe Biden making a speech”.

“Sooo Boring! The LameStream Media will die in the ratings and clicks with this guy,” he said, adding that the country “will do poorly with him”.

“It will be one big crash, but at least China will be happy!”

Cory Booker, the senator from New Jersey and a contender for the Democratic nomination, delivered a speech in the South Carolina church where nine people were shot dead four years ago by Dylan Roof.

Though he did not mention Mr Trump directly, he said that you are “either an agent of justice of you are contributing to the problem”.

“Patriotism is love of country. But you can’t love your country unless you love your fellow countryman and woman - all of them.”

Montana Governor Steve Bullock was asked at an event in the National Press Club in Washington if he thought Mr Trump was a racist.

“Yes,” he replied. “He’s a racist. He’s using race to divide us. Let’s recognise it, let’s condemn it.”

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch

Suzanne Lynch, a former Irish Times journalist, was Washington correspondent and, before that, Europe correspondent