President Trump delivered a mixed message to his supporters at a North Carolina rally Friday night.
At the start of a speech that came hours after his Department of Justice announced the arrest of Cesar Sayoc, the ardent Trump supporter suspected of mailing pipe bombs to the president’s critics, including those in the Democratic Party and at CNN, Trump praised the FBI for their “incredible work in this investigation,” then bemoaned political incivility in America.
“In recent days we have had a broader conversation about the tone and civility of our national dialogue. Everyone will benefit if we can end the politics of personal destruction. We must unify as a nation in peace, love, and in harmony. The media has a major role to play, whether they want to or not,” Trump said as his crowd broke out into boos, then a chant of “CNN sucks!” Trump responded to that by adding, “And they do indeed, they have a major role to play as far as tone and as far as everything.”
A similar situation came up one night earlier, during a rally in Wisconsin when Trump declined a measure of self-reflection, even though he — as his critics point out — has regularly trafficked in the politics of personal destruction, labeling GOP foes “Lyin’ Ted” and “Little Marco” during the Republican primary and blasting Democrats like Maxine Waters and Hillary Clinton. Both Waters and Clinton were recipients of bombs sent by Sayoc. Instead, taking the opposite tack, Trump in North Carolina centered his blame for the deteriorating political discourse in the United States on the media that covers it.
“The media’s constant, unfair coverage, deep hostility and negative attacks only serve to drive people apart and to undermine healthy debate,” Trump said.
Moments later, Trump returned to partisan attack mode.
The crowd interrupted him with a chorus of boos when he mentioned Nancy Pelosi and “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer.”
“Nancy Pelosi. Can you imagine? Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. I don’t think so. But if Pelosi and Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, remember?” Trump asked, drawing the path of tears from his eyes and shaking his head.
Trump went on to decry “radical Democrats,” who he said “want to impose socialism,” “take away our Second Amendment” and “take away your strong health care,” in the same breath boasting of coming close to repealing the Affordable Care Act.
“The Democrats want to invite caravan after caravan into our country,” Trump said, because they hope to give them [Central American migrants] “free health care” and the “right to vote” in American elections. The president did not name which Democrat running for office had floated such a proposal.
When Trump mentioned “Crooked Hillary,” the crowd obliged him with a familiar chant of “Lock her up!”
“Oh boy, they’re going to be reporting about you tonight,” Trump said in response.
On that point, all Americans can certainly agree.
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