White House counselor Kellyanne Conway appeared on President Trump’s favorite network on Wednesday to hype the mercurial President as an even-keeled politician delivering a unifying message in the wake of two mass shootings.
But even the Fox News hosts had to push back on that assessment.
“I can’t think of a time when we’ve seen more of a split screen, though. You’ve got the politically-motivated, craven politicians, many of whom think they should be president, on one side screaming about the President and then you have the President not taking the bait,” Conway said during an appearance on “America’s Newsroom” with Bill Hemmer and Sandra Smith. “And just keeping a very low tone and calling for the country to heal, to unify and putting forth concrete proposals on — about mental health, about red flags about background checks.”
But Hemmer pushed back, pointing out that Trump had, in fact, responded just last night to Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s blunt criticism of Trump’s rhetoric.
“Well, he’s a counter-puncher,” Conway said in defense.
Kellyanne claims Trump hasn't taken the "bait" when it comes to attacking his political foes over the mass shootings pic.twitter.com/XMPEe0x65j
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) August 7, 2019
In a midnight tweet, Trump advised O’Rourke to “be quiet” about the deadly shooting in O’Rourke’s hometown, and made petty jabs at the former Texas congressman’s childhood nickname. O’Rourke has been blunt in his belief that Trump’s racist rhetoric has incited violence in the U.S. and had a cutting response to the President’s late-night tweet.
22 people in my hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by your racism. El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I. https://t.co/dakFPKj0vJ
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 7, 2019
Trump’s also seized on reports that the gunman in Dayton, Ohio held left-leaning political views and tweeted out a quote from a far-right news outlet on Wednesday morning, linking the shooter to presidential hopefuls Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
“Meanwhile, the Dayton, Ohio, shooter had a history of supporting political figures like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and ANTIFA.” @OANN I hope other news outlets will report this as opposed to Fake News. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 7, 2019
Trump doubled down on that connection while speaking to reporters before his flight to Dayton on Wednesday morning.
“As I was saying and it just came out, the Dayton situation, he was a fan of ANTIFA. He was a fan of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, nothing to do with Trump, but nobody ever mentions that,” he told reporters.
“No, I don’t blame Elizabeth Warren and I don’t blame Bernie Sanders in the case of Ohio. And I don’t blame anybody,” he continued. “These are sick people. These are people that are really mentally ill.”