President Trump complained, once again, on Thursday that the recent mail-bomb scare and Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting had “stopped a tremendous momentum” for Republicans ahead of next week’s midterms.
Speaking to an energized crowd in an airplane hangar decorated with American flags in Columbia, Mo., the president took time at the end of his speech to brag about the “tremendous numbers” of Republicans going to vote. Yet he said that the weeks leading up to the “very important election” haven’t exactly gone smoothly.
“Now, we did have two maniacs stop a momentum that was incredible, because for seven days nobody talked about the elections,” Trump said. “It stopped a tremendous momentum.”
The “two maniacs” Trump referred to, never explicitly naming them, are Cesar Sayoc and Robert Bowers.
Sayoc, a 56-year-old Florida man, has been formally charged in connection with the mailing of 13 packages containing pipe bombs to prominent critics of Trump, including former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and CNN. Federal prosecutors allege that Sayoc, a passionate Trump supporter, committed a “domestic terror attack,” and believe he may also be responsible for two more unaccounted packages.
Bowers pleaded not guilty on Thursday to the dozens of charges he faces in connection with the killing of 11 people at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, a mass shooting considered to be the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. The 46-year-old was charged in a 44-count indictment accusing him of federal hate crimes, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, The Washington Post reported.
Just moments after Trump lamented the GOP’s loss of momentum on Thursday, he added: “More importantly, we have to take care of our people, and we don’t care about momentum when it comes to a disgrace like just happened to our country. But it did nevertheless stop a certain momentum.”
On social media, Trump was swiftly excoriated.
Jon Favreau, Obama’s former chief speechwriter, called the statement “revolting.” In another tweet, Favreau, co-host of the progressive political podcast “Pod Save America,” noted that had any past presidents “talked openly about how national tragedies affected their political standing less than a week after the attack . . . it would be a controversy of epic proportions.”
Author Molly Jong-Fast tweeted that “it’s almost as if the president doesn’t care about anyone but himself.”
Trump’s Thursday comments echo a tweet from Oct. 26 in which he griped that the news media was more focused on covering “this ‘Bomb’ stuff” than politics.
“Republicans are doing so well in early voting, and at the polls, and now this ‘Bomb’ stuff happens and the momentum greatly slows — news not talking politics,” he wrote. “Very unfortunate, what is going on. Republicans, go out and vote!”
Trump’s trip to Columbia is his second of 11 planned appearances across eight states intended to galvanize Republican voters ahead of the pivotal midterms. On Thursday, he voiced support for Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley, who is locked in a tight race with incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), and continued pushing his stance on illegal immigration, focusing heavily on the caravan of migrants.
Wrapping up his speech, Trump emphasized the importance of the midterms.
“We have a tremendous opportunity to do something tremendous, just so great for our country,” he said, adding that the midterms are attracting more voters “than some of the presidential elections.”
While Trump believes momentum may have slowed in recent days, he assured the crowd that it is now “picking up.”
“It’s picked up based on common sense,” he said of his party’s momentum. “It’s picked up based on strong borders. It’s picked up based on taxes. It’s picked up based on everything you can think of that makes sense.”
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