Democratic candidates blast Trump for speech blaming shootings on all but guns


Democratic presidential candidates were quick to call President Trump out Monday for not mentioning the roles high-powered guns played in massacres in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, for putting blame on mental illness and for misstating the name of the Ohio city hit by the tragedy.

“In one voice our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” Trump said during his short speech from the White House. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated.”

For the record:

10:00 a.m. Aug. 6, 2019An earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of Tim Murtaugh, communications director of President Trump’s reelection campaign.

Trump said the country needed to stop what he called society’s glorification of violence, change mental health laws and “make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms.”


Many candidates have pointed to the president’s own rhetoric, saying it incites violence. The suspect in the El Paso massacre, in which 22 people have died, is believed to have written an online rant saying he was reacting to “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

Trump in his speeches at rallies and his ad campaigns has repeatedly referred to immigrants as “invaders.” The so-called manifesto said the writer believed in white supremacist ideals before Trump’s candidacy and also railed against “fake news.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden earlier had replied to Trump’s early morning tweet about action on gun control in which he suggested “perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform.”

Immigration, Biden tweeted, isn’t the problem. “White nationalism is the problem. America’s inaction on gun safety legislation is the problem,” he wrote. “It’s time to put the politics aside and pass universal background checks and an assault weapons ban. Lives depend on it.”

Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey called the president weak and criticized his continuing suggestions that mental illness is to blame in mass shootings, including those in which people of color or various religions were targeted. “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun,” Trump said.

“White supremacy is not a mental illness,” Booker tweeted, “and guns are a tool that white supremacists use to fulfill their hate.”


The Trump reelection campaign’s communications director, Tim Murtaugh, said Trump had called for “national unity to overcome the hatred that results in such atrocities.” He condemned Democrats who criticized the president.

“This is not the time for 2020 Dems to boost their campaigns by politicizing national grief,” he tweeted. “Sadly, most can’t resist the temptation.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said Trump’s rhetoric was “amplifying” dangerous ideologies and that the country needed to look at recent attacks by people espousing white nationalist ideas as “domestic terrorism.”

Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio retweeted many of his Democratic rivals. And he had his own profane reaction on Twitter to the president’s gaffe on the name of the Ohio city that is mourning its dead. “May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo,” Trump said. Dayton is the city in Ohio where nine people died and at least 27 were injured.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called on the president to “open your eyes and grow a damn spine.” He referred to Trump’s early morning tweet that appeared to place some blame on the news media.

“The Media has a big responsibility to life and safety in our Country. Fake News has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years,” Trump tweeted. “News coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse!”


Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont called on Trump to stop his “hatred, divisiveness and anti-immigrant rhetoric.” Sanders, in a tweet addressing the president, cited the lack of action by the GOP-controlled Senate on bills that would expand background checks. Two bills have passed in the House, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not brought them to the floor of the Senate, which is now in a six-week recess.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro said the president’s words rang hollow.

“He says ‘we must condemn racism, bigotry and white nationalism’ — but often serves as their national spokesperson. In this national emergency, our president is morally bankrupt. We deserve better.”

Sen. Kamala Harris of California included the deadly shooting in Gilroy, Calif., last week in her message calling gun violence a national emergency.

Meanwhile, Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts condensed the president’s speech into lists.

Moulton, who served in the Marines, also replied to a tweet in which a woman posted a picture of a long rifle lying on a laptop in the passenger seat of a vehicle. “This is my rifle. Just a regular rifle, no assault in front of it. Leave it alone,” the woman wrote.

“I carried an assault rifle in Iraq, just like that one,” Moulton replied. “I don’t need it here and neither do you. Weapons of war have no place on our streets or in your car.”