President Trump is preparing to visit El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday, appearances that will not be universally welcome as the two cities grieve from weekend mass shootings that left 31 dead and many others injured and rattled.
Conway suggested that Trump’s itinerary would be similar to other visits in the wake of mass shootings or natural disasters.
“He’s goes, trying to help heal communities, meeting with those who are injured, those loved ones who have survived the innocents who have lost their lives so senselessly and tragically,” she said. “He meets with local law enforcement, federal law enforcement. He meets with medical professionals. He thanks first responders.”
Several past and present Democratic officials urged Trump not to visit El Paso, a city of about 683,000 with a largely Latino population, in the aftermath of Saturday’s anti-immigrant attack at a Walmart Supercenter that left 22 dead.
Officials are still investigating but believe the alleged gunman posted a manifesto that echoed Trump’s harsh rhetoric on immigrants, notably describing his attack as “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
“This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso,” former congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.) tweeted late Monday afternoon. “We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here.”
The words of O’Rourke, a presidential candidate, echoed those earlier in the day of Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Tex.), whose district includes the El Paso Walmart targeted in the massacre.
During a television appearance Monday, she urged the president and his team “to consider the fact that his words and his actions have played a role in this.”
“From my perspective, he is not welcome here,” Escobar said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “He should not come here while we are in mourning.”
El Paso Mayor Dee Margo (R) said at a Monday news conference that Trump will visit his city on Wednesday. He said he would welcome Trump in an official capacity and ask him “to support our efforts with any and all federal resources that are available.”
But Margo also cautioned Trump against invoking his previous rhetoric to talk about the border city.
“I will continue to challenge any harmful and inaccurate statements made about El Paso,” Margo said. “We will not allow anyone to portray El Paso in a way that is not consistent with our history and values.”
“Clearly it is going to help with people healing, and this is a time of healing,” Telles said on CNN.
White House officials say Trump is also planning to visit Dayton, where another gunman killed nine people early Sunday.
Asked during a CNN interview Tuesday morning if he wants Trump to visit his home state, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) noted that he represents a different area but said that Trump “would not be welcome in my hometown.”
Ryan, another Democratic hopeful whose congressional district includes a large swath of northeastern Ohio, called Trump “a polarizing figure.”
“He finds a million ways to divide us,” Ryan said. “He’s got to get beyond that.”
In social media posts on Monday, Obama called on the country to reject words “coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders” that feed fear and hatred and normalize racist sentiments.
In his tweet, Trump quoted co-host Brian Kilmeade on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” as pointing out that it was unusual for past president to speak out about the current occupant of the Oval Office in the wake of mass shootings.
“Did George Bush ever condemn President Obama after Sandy Hook,” Trump quoted Kilmeade as saying. “President Obama had 32 mass shootings during his reign. Not many people said Obama is out of Control. Mass shootings were happening before the President even thought about running for Pres.”
Josh Dawsey contributed to this report.