BRIDGEWATER, New Jersey: As the nation reeled from two mass shootings in less than a day, United States President Donald Trump was unlocated for the entire Saturday (Sunday in Manila) and reportedly spent the entire day at his New Jersey golf course, sending out tweets of support, awkwardly mixed in with those promoting a celebrity fight and attacking his political foes.
Americans did not glimpse the President in the immediate aftermath of a shooting in El Paso, Texas that killed at least 20 people and, hours later, one in Dayton, Ohio that claimed at least nine lives.
Not until Trump and the first lady prepared to fly back to Washington in the late afternoon Sunday did he appear before cameras.
“Hate has no place in our country, and we’re going to take care of it,” Trump declared before boarding Air Force One.
While connecting “hate” and mental illness to the shootings, Trump made no direct mention of gun laws, a factor brought up by Democratic officials and those seeking their party’s nomination to challenge Trump’s reelection next year. He also ignored questions about the anti-immigration language in a manifesto written by the El Paso shooter that mirrors some of his own.
Investigators focused on whether the El Paso attack was a hate crime after the emergence of a racist, anti-immigrant screed that was posted online shortly beforehand. Detectives sought to determine if it was written by the man who was arrested.
In recent weeks, the President has issued racist tweets about four women of color who serve in Congress, and in rallies has spoken of an “invasion” at the southern border.
His reelection strategy so far has placed racial animus at the forefront in an effort that his aides said was designed to activate his base of conservative voters, an approach not seen by an American president in the modern era.
Trump has also been widely criticized for offering a false equivalency when discussing racial violence, notably when he said there were “good people on both sides” after a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in the death of an anti-racism demonstrator.
The shootings will likely complicate that strategy, and Democrats who are campaigning to deny Trump a second term were quick to lay blame at the President’s feet.
“You reap what you sow, and he is sowing seeds of hate in this country. This harvest of hate violence we’re seeing right now lies at his feet,” Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” ‘’He is responsible.”
White House aides said the President had been receiving updates about both shootings.
Meanwhile, six Mexicans were killed and another seven of the country’s citizens were among the over two dozens wounded, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Sunday (Monday in Manila).
“Mexico is outraged,” he said, calling the shooting an “act of barbarism.”
Just minutes before the rampage, US investigators believe the shooter posted a rambling online manifesto in which he railed against a perceived “invasion” of Hispanics coming into the US.
He then allegedly targeted a shopping area in El Paso that is about 8 kilometers from the main border checkpoint with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Tens of thousands of Mexicans cross the border legally each day to work and shop in the city of 680,000 full-time residents, and El Paso County is more than 80 percent Latino, according to data.
The Mexican victims were Sara Esther Regalado of Ciudad Juarez; Adolfo Cerros Hernández of Aguascalientes; Jorge Calvillo García of Torreon, Coahuila; Elsa Mendoza de la Mora of Yepomera, Chihuahua; Gloria Irma Marquez of Ciudad Juarez; and María Eugenia Legarreta Rothe of Chihuahua.
Other victims may have also been of Mexican descent, while one man who had traveled to El Paso from Mexico to buy school supplies for his daughter was among those severely wounded.