“Be Quiet!” Trump Drops Healer-in-Chief Role Ahead of El Paso and Dayton Visits

In a string of angry tweets, the president abandoned his own message of unity.

Tasos Katopodis/ZUMA

In a teleprompter speech from the White House on Monday, President Donald Trump urged the country to set aside “destructive partisanship” and unite in the wake of two mass shootings that killed 31 people in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. 

But just hours ahead of visiting the sites of the massacres—a visit some area lawmakers are not welcoming—bitter partisanship and political attacks were on full display on the president’s Twitter account. 

“Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O’Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1% in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims & law enforcement—& be quiet!” Trump said late Wednesday. The president was responding to a widely viewed moment in which O’Rourke, a former congressman from El Paso, expressed visceral anger at both the media and Trump following the shooting.

By Thursday morning, Trump had turned his attention to a much-maligned New York Times headline that had originally read “Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism”—a framing that many said ran counter to the president’s longstanding record of divisiveness and racist rhetoric. That headline was quickly edited to read, “Assailing Hate but Not Guns.”

“Radical Left Democrats went absolutely CRAZY!” Trump said on Thursday, referring to the headline change. “Fake News—That’s what we’re up against.”

Trump then noted reports that a Twitter account apparently associated with the Dayton shooter had a history of supporting leftist causes. However, that shooter’s motives remain unclear.

The string of tweets highlighted the wholly inconsistent messaging shaping Trump’s response to the massacres: one that rejects divisiveness before the television cameras while relentlessly attacking his political opponents in other forums. 

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