Nonprofit 9/11 Day bashes Trump for airing political ads on Sept. 11 anniversary

9/11 Day, the nonprofit that established the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks as a federally recognized National Day of Service and Remembrance, criticized President Trump on Friday for not suspending his campaign for the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“Sadly, our organization and members of the 9/11 community learned today that President Donald Trump’s campaign organization chose to violate this solemn tradition. Rather than suspending political activities for the day, the President’s campaign ran as many as 1,000 campaign ads throughout the day and throughout the nation, according to media reports,” the organization said in a statement.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign pulled its television ads off the air for the day. 9/11 Day in August called on both candidates to suspend their campaigns.

When asked about running ads on Friday, the Trump campaign told The Hill “people are voting today and our ad is patriotic, describing the Great American Comeback.”

Some Biden ads still ran on the anniversary. His campaign said it was “inadvertent.”

“Our clear intentions are to suspend advertising today,” a campaign official said Friday. “This was an inadvertent airing and we are reaching out to the affiliate stations for an explanation and to remedy.”

The 9/11 Campaign Moratorium was established in 2004 and has been supported by all major party U.S. presidential candidates and federal, state and local level candidates since then, including Trump in 2016. 

“On the 9/11 anniversary each year, countless members of the 9/11 community hope to be able to mourn and pay tribute to their lost loved ones in peace, without the backdrop of yet more political division,” the nonprofit said.

Both Biden and Trump traveled to Shanksville, Pa., on Friday, which is the site of the Flight 93 National Memorial. Biden also traveled to New York City.

“We understand that the upcoming election is important. But the anniversary of 9/11 is not a day for campaigning and divisiveness, and must never be. For so many, it is a day of reflection, prayer, service, and national unity,” the nonprofit said. “We expect and ask all of our leaders to set that example.”

It added, “Is it really too much to ask of our leaders that they take just a moment to honor those lost by putting politics aside for just one day? We think not. Otherwise the words, ‘Never Forget’ will stand for nothing.”

Cindy McGinty, who lost her husband in New York on 9/11, signed the letters to the campaigns along with many other family members of victims.

“It just doesn’t make any sense to me. It does take away from the solemnness of the day. It’s been 19 years and every other presidential candidate has suspended campaigning and it’s another sign of the lack of empathy on their part,” McGinty told The Hill.

Trump and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton both pledged to halt television ads for the Sept. 11 anniversary in 2016, Politico reported at the time. 

In 2012, NPR reported that President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney pulled their campaign ads, and in 2008, Reuters reported that Obama and Republican presidential nominee John McCain did so as well.

Updated on Sept. 12 at 10:21 a.m.

Tags 9/11 Donald Trump Donald Trump 2020 presidential campaign Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Joe Biden 2020 presidential campaign John McCain Mitt Romney
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