Trump targets Democrats over state of US cities at Cincinnati rally

CINCINNATI – President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren unveils Native American policy plan Live-action 'Mulan' star spurs calls for boycott with support of Hong Kong police Don't let other countries unfairly tax America's most innovative companies MORE, at his campaign rally Thursday, bemoaned the state of American cities, broadening his days-long onslaught against Baltimore to accuse Democrats of running urban areas across the nation into the ground.

“No one has paid a higher price for the far left’s destructive agenda than Americans living in our nation’s inner cities. They have paid a dear price,” Trump told his supporters near the start of the event at U.S. Bank Arena.

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The president argued that funding provided by the federal government has been "stolen" and "wasted" by local officials.

“For 100 years it’s been one party control, and look at them,” he continued. “We can name one after another, but I won’t do that because I don’t want to be controversial.” 

Then, over the course of the next hour, Trump singled out multiple prominent cities and decried their conditions. In each case, he pinned the blame on Democratic leaders, including Cincinnati's own mayor.

Protesters interrupted Trump’s rally at one point for roughly three minutes as they waved a banner that read “Immigrants Built America.” When Trump finally returned to the microphone several minutes later to continue speaking, he quipped that the demonstrators reflected the city’s leadership.

"Cincinnati, do you have a Democrat mayor?" Trump asked the crowd.

The remarks come after days of attacks against Baltimore and Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsOvernight Health Care: Planned Parenthood to leave federal family planning program absent court action | Democrats demand Trump withdraw rule on transgender health | Cummings, Sanders investigate three drug companies for 'obstructing' probe Democratic Women's Caucus calls for investigation into Epstein plea deal Cummings, Sanders investigate three drug companies for 'obstructing' congressional probe MORE (D-Md.), who represents the city, and reflects a consistent effort from Trump to disparage large cities that are Democratic strongholds.

He has previously chided Baltimore for its crime problems; Washington, D.C., over its homelessness issues and San Francisco over sanitation. All three cities are heavily Democratic and have Democratic mayors. 

“Nearly half of all the homeless people living in the streets in America happen to live in the state of California. What they are doing to our beautiful California is a disgrace to our country. It’s a shame," he said.

“Look at Los Angeles with the tents, and the horrible, horrible disgusting conditions. Look at San Francisco, look at some of your other cities,” Trump added.

He blamed the problems on California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump moves green cards, citizenship away from poor, low-skilled New York attorney general to sue Trump administration over 'public charge' rule Oregon governor supports requiring presidential candidates release tax returns to appear on ballot MORE (D) for offering additional benefits to those who come to the state, and suggested the strength of the economy is luring people as well.

Newsom earlier this week signed a bill to force Trump to release his tax returns before he can appear on the state's 2020 primary ballot.

While Trump's attacks resonated with his base — triggering boos at the mention of "sanctuary cities" where local officials don't cooperate with federal immigration authorities and of "radical" lawmakers — it's unclear how the strategy will play in the 2020 election, where big cities reliably vote for Democrats in large numbers.

The president has routinely criticized the state of some U.S. cities, generally blaming local leadership. He has reignited that strategy of late, going after prominent minority lawmakers and the urban areas they represent as critics accuse him of stoking racial tensions for political gain.

His criticism of Baltimore and Cummings over the past week has been particularly vitriolic.

In over a dozen tweets over the weekend, Trump described the country's 30th-largest city and surrounding areas as a "very dangerous & filthy place" where "no human being would want to live.”

He also quote-tweeted several videos purporting to show the “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” in the district represented by Cummings, a well-respected, 13-term congressman. 

The attacks directed at Cummings were the second time in less than a month that Trump went after minority Democratic lawmakers.

The comments drew widespread backlash among Democrats, some of whom decried Trump's attacks on their colleague as racist. 

In all the cases of bashing American cities, Trump has tied problems to Democrats.

Speaking with Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonWhy target Tucker Carlson? It's part of the left's war on the right Carlson calls racism one of nation's problems, says people should 'calm down' Trump lashes out at Fox News's Shep Smith, says 'fake news CNN is better' MORE early last month, the president suggested that homelessness is "a phenomena that started two years ago.” 

Trump targeted San Francisco, New York City and Los Angeles during the interview, saying that the "liberal establishment” in those places were at fault for terrible conditions in them.

Trump last year suggested the Democratic mayor of Oakland, Calif., should be investigated for obstruction of justice after she warned residents of an impending federal immigration raid.

On Thursday, he painted "sanctuary cities" as Democrat-run municipalities that have harbored criminals.

"In the bizarre worldview of the ... hard left, they have no problem destroying the lives of innocent Americans for a single politically incorrect thought," Trump said. 

"Republicans believe our cities should be a sanctuary for law-abiding Americans, not criminal aliens," he added.

"Sanctuary cities" have been a frequent point of criticism for Trump.

He floated the idea earlier this year of retaliating by releasing immigrants without legal status and refugees in the cities. He also issued an executive order last year blocking "sanctuary cities" from receiving certain federal funding. San Francisco sued over the order, and ultimately won its case.

Chris Mills Rodrigo contributed.