DAYTON, Ohio — President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump touched down in Dayton just before 11 a.m. Wednesday. The First Couple came to Dayton to pay their respects to the injured, thank the first responders, and tell the victims and their families, “I want you to know we’re with you all the way.”
Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham shared the details on Twitter.
Happening Now: @POTUS @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS Melania are meeting with patients at Miami Valley Hospital here in Dayton. They’ve been stopping between rooms to thank the hardworking medical staff. Very powerful moments for all!
— Stephanie Grisham (@PressSec) August 7, 2019
— Stephanie Grisham (@PressSec) August 7, 2019
Some of the dignitaries accompanying the president and first lady at the Miami Valley Hospital were Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio’s First Lady Fran DeWine. Others in attendance included U.S. Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, Congressman Mike Turner (R-10-OH) and his daughter Jessica, Mayor Nan Whaley and hospital and health care leaders, including Mike Uhl, president of Miami Valley Hospital.
Also along for the visit were Wright-Patterson Air Force Base officials General Arnold Bunch, Commander, Air Force Material Command; Lt. General Robert McMurry, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and Colonel Thomas Sherman, Commander, 88th Air Base Wing.
Greeting the Trumps was an electronic message board that spelled out, “Welcome to Dayton, President Trump.”
Before President Trump left Washington D.C., he told the White House press corps, “We’re going to Dayton first and then we’re going to El Paso. We’ll be meeting with first responders and law enforcement and some of the victims. I’ll be paying my respects and my regards. I’ll be going with the first lady, and it’s a good opportunity really to congratulate some of the police and law enforcement, and the job they’ve done was incredible, really incredible.”
He was asked, “This is a difficult time in the country for all of us, and from your heart and mind, what do you say to your critics who believe your rhetoric is emboldening white nationalists and inspiring anger?”
Trump responded, “So my critics are political people. They’re trying to make points. In many cases they’re running for president and they’re very low in the polls. A couple of them, in particular, are very low in the polls.”
“If you look at Dayton, that was a person that supported, I guess you would say, Bernie Sanders, I understood; Antifa, I understood; Elizabeth Warren, I understood. It had nothing to do with President Trump,” he added.
“So these are people that are looking for political gain. I don’t think they’re getting it. And as much as possible I’ve tried to stay out of that.”
The Democratic presidential hopefuls were not the only ones playing politics with the mass shooting. Dayton’s Mayor Nan Whaley got her jabs in at the president as well.
“I’ve heard that he’s coming Wednesday but I have not gotten a call,” The Hill shared via Twitter. “And you know he might be going to Toledo, I don’t know,” she jibed, referencing the president’s misstatement from Monday’s press conference.
Mayor of Dayton Nan Whaley: "I've heard that [President Trump's] coming Wednesday but I have not gotten a call. And you know he might be going to Toledo, I don't know." pic.twitter.com/CYnyF6hA31
— The Hill (@thehill) August 5, 2019
In addition to her words for the president, Whaley had some suggestions for Dayton residents. She encouraged them to protest the president, saying, “Look, I know that [Trump has] made this bed, now he has to lie in it,” and “his rhetoric has been painful for many in our community.”
Protesters did show up. A few hundred were at the hospital but it was a mix of protesters and supporters. The same was true for the crime scene, where the president was expected to drive through but did not. Press, protesters, supporters and residents lined both sides of the street. When news arrived that President Trump was not driving through, people slowing began departing.
J. Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio’s former state treasurer and gubernatorial candidate, shared his thoughts about Mayor Whaley’s politicization of the shooting and attacks on the president.
“This is sick,” he tweeted. “Mayor Nan Whaley has no class!”
This is sick. Mayor @nanwhaley has no class! "WATCH: Dayton Mayor Encourages Trump Protests When @realDonaldTrump Pays His Respects To Shooting Victims" https://t.co/u49zNC3Vva @realDailyWire #PrayforDayton
— J. Kenneth Blackwell (@kenblackwell) August 6, 2019
Still, the mayor and Senator Brown took one more poke at the president during a press conference following his visit.
“I’m very concerned about a president who divides with his rhetoric and plays to race in his rhetoric,” Brown said.
“I think it was a good decision for him not to stop in the Oregon District,” Mayor @nanwhaley says about Pres. Trump not visiting the site of the mass shooting.
“A lot of the time his talk can be very divisive, and that’s the last thing we need in Dayton.” https://t.co/Jyfd6eKzJU pic.twitter.com/Om1UbuU9Tj
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) August 7, 2019
In spite of their criticism, when questioned about the patients’ experience meeting with the president, Brown acknowledged, “He was received well, as you’d expect.”
“Oh, he was comforting and he did the right things and Melania did the right things. It’s his job in part to comfort people,” he said. “I’m glad he did it in those hospital rooms.”
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