President Trump on Saturday blamed "many sides" for violent clashes between protesters and white supremacists in Virginia and contended that the "hatred and bigotry" broadcast across the country had taken root long before his political ascendancy. That was not how the Charlottesville mayor assessed the chaos that led the governor to declare a state of emergency. "I'm not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you're seeing in America today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president," Michael Signer said. Trump had intended to speak briefly at a bill signing, reports the AP, but he quickly found that overtaken by the escalating violence. One person died and at least 26 others were sent to the hospital after a car plowed into a group of peaceful counterprotesters. Two police officers later died in a helicopter crash.
Speaking slowly from the golf clubhouse, Trump said, "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides, on many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama." Former Ku Klux Klan member David Duke attended the demonstrations, and told reporters that the white nationalists were working to "fulfill the promises of Donald Trump." Trump's speech also drew praise from the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, which wrote: "Trump comments were good. He didn't attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. ... No condemnation at all." In his remarks Saturday, Trump mentioned the strong economy and "the many incredible things in our country, so when I watch Charlottesville, to me it's very, very sad." (Read more President Trump stories.)