Dayton mayor calls Trump a 'bully and a coward' after controversial visit

Joe Sommerlad@JoeSommerlad
Thursday 08 August 2019 15:15
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Donald Trump visited Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday to console the community after a gunman killed nine people in a mass shooting in the early hours of Sunday morning.

In his address to the nation from the White House on Monday following the attack - and an even more lethal incident in El Paso, Texas, in which a further 22 citizens lost there lives - the president mistakenly referred to the wrong town, making the prospect of his unpopular visit even thornier, with many members of the local community blaming his irresponsible campaign rhetoric for inciting violence.

Trump's arrival in Dayton was duly met by angry protesters bearing placards declaring him unwelcome in their city and he was treated to a similar reaction in El Paso when he arrived there later in the day.

A friendlier greeting awaited him at the steps of Air Force One courtesy of Dayton mayor Nan Whaley and Ohio senator Sherrod Brown, both of whom had conducted themselves with admirable professionalism throughout the ordeal their grieving city had faced.

Trump went on from there to visit the injured in Dayton's Miami Valley Hospital, the White House not allowing the press to follow him inside but busily putting out its own images of the president shaking hands and posing for selfies.

Afterwards, Whaley and Brown gave a press conference saying they had asked Trump to pressure Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell into bringing the upper chamber of Congress back from recess to address gun legislation and to vow to sign any resulting bill.

But the president was non-committal in his response, according to Brown:

He only said that we will get things done.

Asked about where responsibility lay for finding a solution to mass shootings, Brown was emphatic:

We can't get anything done in the Senate because Mitch McConnell and the president of the United States are in bed with the gun lobby.

Angered by this, Trump and his social media director Dan Scavino tweeted angrily about the duo "LYING" and "mischaracterizing" his visit to the hospital and the discussions that were held there.

The president's attacks on his political rivals continued on Twitter throughout the day in spectacularly undignified fashion.

Tweets laying into everyone from Fox News anchor Shepherd Smith to Texas congressman Joaquin Castro and MSNBC analyst Tim O'Brien flooded in from Air Force One, suggesting Trump was more preoccupied with media coverage than the wellbeing of his citizens and undermining the whole purpose of his mission to serve as national healer in a time of crisis.

Asked whether she had a response to the Twitter attacks by The Cincinnati Enquirer, Mayor Whaley answered:

I’m confused. We said he was treated very well. I don’t know what he’s talking about misrepresenting… Oh well. He lives in his world of Twitter.

Pressed further by Anderson Cooper later on CNN, Whaley said:

I’ve watched President Trump’s Twitter feed for a while. He’s a bully and a coward.

And it’s fine that he wants to bully me and Senator Brown. We’re OK. We can take it. But the citizens of Dayton deserve action.

In rising above Trump's petty insults, not losing perspective and realising the occasion was about something much more important than fragile egos and wounded pride, Mayor Whaley demonstrated the leadership so sadly lacking from the president of the United States.

More: Trump used his El Paso 'healing' visit to brag about crowd sizes

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