BRIDGEWATER, N.J. (AP) — As the nation reeled from two mass shootings in less than a day, President Donald Trump spent the first hours after the tragedies out of sight at his New Jersey golf course, sending out tweets of support awkwardly mixed in with those promoting a celebrity fight and attacking his political foes.
Americans did not glimpse the Republican president in the immediate aftermath of a shooting in El Paso, Texas, that killed at least 20 people and, hours later, one in Dayton, Ohio, that claimed at least nine lives. Not until Trump and the first lady prepared to fly back to Washington in the late afternoon Sunday did he appear before cameras.
“Hate has no place in our country, and we’re going to take care of it,” Trump declared before boarding Air Force One.
While connecting “hate” and mental illness to the shootings, Trump made no direct mention of gun laws, a factor brought up by Democratic officials and those seeking their party’s nomination to challenge Trump’s reelection next year. He also ignored questions about the anti-immigration language in a manifesto written by the El Paso shooter that mirrors some of his own.
Trump tried to assure Americans he was dealing with the problem and defended his administration in light of criticism following the latest in a string of mass shootings.