Democrats condemn Trump, white nationalism after U.S. shootings
Doina Chiacu, Pete Schroeder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two mass shootings that killed 29 people in Texas and Ohio reverberated across the U.S. political arena on Sunday, with some Democratic presidential candidates accusing President Donald Trump of stoking racial divisions while he insisted “hate has no place in our country.”
Dozens were also wounded Saturday and early Sunday in shootings within just 13 hours of each other in carnage that shocked a country that has become grimly accustomed to mass shootings and heightened concerns about domestic terrorism.
The first massacre occurred on Saturday morning in the heavily Hispanic border city of El Paso, where a gunman killed 20 people at a Walmart store before surrendering. Authorities in Texas said the rampage appeared to be a racially motivated hate crime and federal prosecutors are treating it as a case of domestic terrorism.
Across the country, a gunman opened fire in a downtown district of Dayton, Ohio, early on Sunday, killing nine people and wounding at least 26 others. The assailant was killed by police, making the death toll for both shootings 30.
The El Paso shooting resonated on the campaign trail for next year’s presidential election, with most Democratic candidates repeating calls for tighter gun control measures and some drawing connections to a resurgence in white nationalism and xenophobic politics in the United States.
Several 2020 candidates said Trump was indirectly to blame.
“Donald Trump is responsible for this. He is responsible because he is stoking fears ad hatred and bigotry,” U.S. Senator Cory Booker said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Speaking to reporters on the airport tarmac in Morristown, New Jersey after spending the weekend at his golf resort nearby, Trump said: “Hate has no place in our country, and we’re going to take care of it.”
In his first public comments since the shootings, he said he had spoken to the FBI, Attorney General William Barr and members of Congress about what can be done to prevent such violence. But he offered no specifics, except to say he would make a statement in Washington on Monday morning.
The Republican president did not address accusations by critics about his anti-immigrant and racially charged rhetoric, though he earlier called the El Paso shooting a “hateful act” and “an act of cowardice.”