President Trump's trip to the two cities suffering after mass shootings last weekend disintegrated into political sniping Wednesday after he was met in Dayton and El Paso by protesters. "I would like to stay out of the political fray," he told reporters as he and his wife, Melania, left the White House in the morning, the Washington Post reports. That didn't happen. Trump criticized and was criticized during a day of mourning and comforting that included charges and countercharges. The developments include:
- White House aides, and later Trump, attacked Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley for "LYING & completely mischaracterizing" what took place when the president visited a Dayton hospital, calling the two Democrats "disgraceful." But they hadn't been critical of Trump. "He was comforting. He did the right things," Brown had said at a press conference of the president. Reading Trump's tweets later, a video showed Whaley saying: “I don’t–I mean, I’m really confused. We said he was treated, like, very well."
- Trump stayed largely out of public view in Dayton. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told reporters and photographers they couldn't go in the hospital because the event wasn't a photo-op, it was "about the victims and their families and thanking medical staff," per the Post. After Trump left the hospital, aides tweeted their own video of the visit, as well as accounts that Trump was "treated like a rock star." Grisham told reporters, "Everybody was very, very excited to see him."
- About 200 protesters waited outside the hospital, per the AP, some saying Trump wasn't welcome in Dayton because of his incendiary rhetoric. Supporters of the president gathered, as well.