After calling for unity, Trump swiftly denounces Democratic critics

US President Donald Trump again demonstrated that he would not be swayed from the call of the campaign trail during a politically volatile and violent midterm election season.
US President Donald Trump again demonstrated that he would not be swayed from the call of the campaign trail during a politically volatile and violent midterm election season.PHOTO: AFP

MURPHYSBORO, ILLINOIS (NYTIMES) - President Donald Trump said on Saturday (Oct 27) that "the hearts of all Americans are filled with grief" after a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue left at least 11 people dead, and he called on the country to combat hate crimes together.

"It will require all of us working together to extract the hateful poison of anti-Semitism," Mr Trump said to a rally crowd at an airplane hangar in rural Illinois. "The scourge of anti-Semitism can't be ignored."

Still, Mr Trump again demonstrated that he would not be swayed from the call of the campaign trail during a politically volatile and violent midterm election season.

In minutes, Mr Trump moved from a call for unity to attacking and name-calling Democrats, including his former presidential rival Mrs Hillary Clinton, and leading lawmakers like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Maxine Waters.

Rather than hang back at the White House, the President barrelled forward to Illinois to support Representative Mike Bost, a Republican in a tight race for re-election.

Mr Trump received counter-terrorism briefings on the road. He delivered real-time shooting "results" to the country between Air Force One stops and urged Americans to fight religious and racial prejudice. And he repeatedly said that the death penalty should be enforced.

"We can't make these sick, demented, evil people important," Mr Trump said to his rally crowd. "When we change all of our lives in order to accommodate them, it's not acceptable."

 
 

On Saturday, Mr Trump made a stop at an Indiana farming convention before a busy schedule in the coming week in the run-up to the elections, when at least 10 campaign events are scheduled. Mr Trump also said that he intended to visit Pittsburgh.

Hours before his latest rally, Mr Trump said that the nation's gun laws had "little to do" with the shooting and suggested that the synagogue should have had an armed guard in place.

"If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better," he said. "This is a dispute that will always exist, I suspect."

Four police officers were among the injured, according to Mr Wendell Hissrich, Pittsburgh's public safety director.

Democrats, including Pennsylvania's governor, Mr Tom Wolf, quickly disagreed with the President's assertion that gun laws had little to do with the shooting.

"Dangerous weapons are putting our citizens in harm's way," Mr Wolf said.