President Trump on Sunday lashed out at billionaire Democratic activist Tom Steyer, ridiculing him as a “stumbling lunatic” days after Steyer was targeted by one of more than a dozen pipe bombs sent to prominent critics of the president.
Trump’s tweet came shortly after Steyer accused the president and the Republican Party of creating an atmosphere of “political violence” in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Just watched Wacky Tom Steyer, who I have not seen in action before, be interviewed by @jaketapper,” Trump said in the tweet. “He comes off as a crazed & stumbling lunatic who should be running out of money pretty soon. As bad as their field is, if he is running for President, the Dems will eat him alive!”
Steyer, a philanthropist and former hedge fund manager, is best known for his “Need to Impeach” campaign, calling for Trump’s removal from office. Last week, he was among the high-profile Democrats across the country to whom a 56-year-old Florida man, Cesar Sayoc, allegedly sent package bombs. The one addressed to Steyer was intercepted in California, according to officials. Sayoc was arrested Friday and charged with crimes in connection with the mail bombs.
Steyer denounced Trump in a tweet later Sunday afternoon in which he said the president had “just tweeted at me in his typical insulting style.”
“It is unthinkable that in the midst of the horrible political violence our president would resort to name-calling instead of repairing the damage to the fabric of our country,” Steyer said.
Trump’s attack on Steyer came in the midst of a broader debate over the role of political rhetoric following the mail bombs, as well as Saturday’s deadly shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. Some, such as Vice President Pence, have defended Trump in the wake of the shooting, while others have called for him to tone down his language.
On CNN earlier Sunday, Steyer gave Trump some credit for his response to the massacre in Pittsburgh but said the president has contributed to the poor political climate.
“Well, I think his response to the tragedy was appropriate,” Steyer told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “But there’s something much bigger than that going on here, which is the atmosphere that he’s created, and that the Republican Party has created, in terms of political violence.”
Steyer said that while Democrats have not behaved perfectly in recent months, Trump has gone far beyond acceptable standards at his rallies.
“I think that everybody on the Democratic side would look at that shooter of Congressman Scalise and absolutely condemn his action, him and anyone associated with him,” Steyer said, referring to the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) during a congressional baseball practice last year. “So I think that that actually is very much of a false equivalence — not that there’s perfection on one side and absolute horror on the other, but we’re seeing something that is not at all equivalent.”
The billionaire denounced House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for releasing a Web video that criticized Steyer, George Soros and Michael Bloomberg for trying to “buy” the midterm elections through their support of Democrats. Soros and Bloomberg are Jewish, and Steyer’s late father was Jewish.
“In terms of interpreting what he said, that seems, to me, like a straight-up anti-Semitic move,” he said.
A pipe bomb addressed to Soros had already been intercepted, and by Wednesday, after similar bombs addressed to other senior Democratic officials and CNN were also intercepted, McCarthy pulled down the video. His office issued a statement denying that there was any ethnic motive behind the video.