Trump may get cool reception from Dayton, El Paso leaders

Trump may get cool reception from Dayton, El Paso leaders
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrumps light 97th annual National Christmas Tree Trump to hold campaign rally in Michigan 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments MORE may face a cool reception Wednesday from local leaders in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, when he travels to each city in the wake of back-to-back mass shootings.

Democrats in both cities have indicated they’re not crazy about the president visiting, particularly in El Paso, where the suspected gunman allegedly published an anti-immigrant manifesto that echoed some of Trump’s own language.

Mayors of both cities said they intend to greet Trump out of respect for his office, but appeared less than enthusiastic about welcoming him so quickly after last weekend's tragedies.

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“He is the president of the United States,” El Paso Mayor Dee Margo (R) told reporters on Monday. “In that capacity I will fulfill my obligations as mayor of El Paso to meet with the president and discuss whatever our needs are in this community.”

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley (D) struck a similar tone Tuesday, telling reporters she will greet Trump in her official capacity as mayor and offering a biting response when asked if the president was visiting too soon.

“He’s the president of the United States,” she said. “He does his calendar, I do mine.”

The White House has yet to release details on Trump's agenda, but he is expected to meet with local officials and first responders in each city, as well as survivors of the shootings that killed more than 30 people and left dozens of others wounded.

Texas Democrats have flatly rejected Trump's visit, arguing that his rhetoric describing immigrants as “thugs” and “criminals” pouring into the country helped contribute to the weekend's violence. 

“This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday's tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso,” tweeted Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeButtigieg picks up third congressional endorsement from New York lawmaker Klobuchar hires staff in Nevada Deval Patrick enters 2020 race MORE (D), a presidential candidate, El Paso native and former congressional representative for the city.

“We do not need more division,” he added. “We need to heal. He has no place here.”

The El Paso gunman opened fire in a Walmart, killing 22 people and wounding dozens more. The suspected shooter’s language in the alleged manifesto closely mirrored some of Trump’s statements about immigrants, including describing the influx of Latino migrants as an “invasion,” but the accused gunman said he held his beliefs before the president took office.

Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarFive questions looming over impeachment Rep. Veronica Escobar elected to represent freshman class in House leadership Brindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees MORE (D-Texas), the current congressional representative for El Paso, told MSNBC on Monday that Trump “is not welcome” in the city while its residents are mourning the dead. She cited his vitriolic rhetoric toward migrants that features prominently on his Twitter account and at campaign rallies. 

“I hope that he has the self-awareness to understand that we are in pain and we are mourning and we’re doing our very best … to continue to be resilient,” she said. “And so I would ask his staff and his team to consider the fact that his words and his actions have played a role in this.”

Trump has previously used El Paso to make his case for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In his State of the Union speech this year, Trump described El Paso as a crime-ridden city until the construction of a border barrier improved safety, even though local officials insisted it was not a cure all.

At a campaign rally in February, Trump warned that drugs, illegal immigrants and crime would pour into the country without construction of a border wall and said officials who downplayed the importance of the barrier were “full of crap.”

The tone on Wednesday will likely be more professional. Margo, the Republican mayor, acknowledged he'd received emails and phone calls from constituents unhappy with Trump's expected arrival. He said he could understand their reasons, but expressed a desire to rise above politics.

“We’re not dealing with that right now,” he said. “We’re dealing with a tragedy of 22 people who have perished by an evil, hateful act of a white supremacist that has no bearing or belong in El Paso.”

Trump may receive an equally chilly reception in Dayton, where a gunman with a history of making violent threats killed nine people and wounded more than 20 others hours after the El Paso massacre.

On Tuesday, the mayor said she would make clear to Trump during his visit that the federal government has failed to take adequate steps to prevent gun violence.

“Yesterday his comments weren’t very helpful to the issue around guns,” she said.

The president spoke for roughly 10 minutes on Monday about the shootings in Texas and Ohio. In prepared remarks, he called on the nation to condemn bigotry and white supremacy, emphasized the need for improved mental health care and blamed the internet and video games for fostering a violent culture.

He reiterated his support for “red flag” laws that allow law enforcement to get court orders to confiscate weapons from dangerous individuals, but otherwise did not propose other gun legislation. By Tuesday morning, the focus of his tweets shifted to the trade war with China. 

Trump has struggled to embrace the traditional role of comforter-in-chief in the face of tragedy, instead often pivoting to appeal to his base of supporters or delivering awkward moments.

In Monday's speech, he mistakenly referred to shooting victims in Toledo rather than Dayton as he read from a teleprompter.

In the wake of a white nationalist Charlottesville rally, Trump said “both sides” were responsible for violence.

During a trip to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, Trump flipped rolls of paper towels into the crowd as if he were shooting basketballs. 

The president joked last September that a North Carolina man whose home was damaged by Hurricane Florence “got a nice boat” that washed up near his property, and in March he signed Bibles for tornado victims in Alabama.

White House officials have chastised Democrats and pundits who have attempted to tie Trump to the latest mass shootings and argued Trump has consistently sought to console victims of tragedy.

“He goes trying to help heal communities, meeting with those who are injured, those loved ones who have survived, the innocents who have lost their lives so senselessly and tragically,” White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayOvernight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 White House adopts confident tone after Pelosi signals go on impeachment Conway: Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping issue MORE told reporters on Tuesday. “He meets with local law enforcement, federal law enforcement. He meets with medical professionals. He thanks first responders.”

“So you see what he’s done in the past and you can see that he will continue to do that as the president,” she added.