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Dayton mayor says she will confront Trump on guns

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley speaks to the media on Tuesday outside of Ned Peppers bar after a mass shooting occurred there early Sunday morning.
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley speaks to the media on Tuesday outside of Ned Peppers bar after a mass shooting occurred there early Sunday morning. (John Minchillo/AP)

As she leads a grieving city, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley says she will confront President Trump when he visits on Wednesday by telling him “how unhelpful he’s been” on the issue of guns.

Whaley, a Democrat, said she will “serve her official capacity as mayor” by welcoming Trump to Dayton in his “official capacity as president.” But Whaley said she expects protests because some Dayton residents have been unhappy with Trump’s leadership in the aftermath of shootings here and in El Paso.

“I know he has made this bed, and he’s got to lie in it,” said Whaley, who was speaking in front of makeshift memorial honoring the victims Sunday’s mass shooting. “His rhetoric has been painful for many in our community, and I think the people should stand up and say they are not happy if they are not happy he’s coming.”

A gunman killed nine people and shot 14 others in Dayton’s entertainment district Sunday morning, part of a weekend of bloodshed, occurring less than a day after 22 people were killed at a Walmart in Texas.

Trump plans to visit both cities on Wednesday, even though there’s unease among some local officials in both places about whether he will be welcomed by residents.

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When a reporter asked Whaley if she thought Trump’s visit could help Dayton to heal, she responded, “Everyone has it in their power to be a force to bring people together, and everybody has it in their the power to be a force to bring people apart.”

“That is up to the president of the United States,” Whaley said.

But Whaley, a vice chair of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors and a longtime proponent of gun control measures, said she is “disappointed” that Trump hardly mentioned guns during his address to the nation Monday morning.

“I think they fell really short,” said Whaley, who took office in 2014. “He mentioned gun issues like one time.”

Whaley said, as mayor, she must make her misgivings known to Trump in person when she see’s him tomorrow.

“If I am telling you, I am going to tell him,” Whaley told reporters. “I’m going to tell him how unhelpful he’s been on the issue of guns.”

Whaley also blasted Ohio State Rep. Candice Keller (R) for comments she made over the weekend blaming the recent mass shootings on immigrants, same-sex marriage and transgender rights. On Monday, the leader of the Ohio Republican Party called on Keller to resign.

“She just represents what is so disgusting about American politics today,” Whaley said. “I hope she resigns — that kind of hate does not belong in the Ohio State House.”