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Wednesday August 12th, 2020 4:19PM

The Latest: Video shows Trump joking about crowd sizes

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's visit to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas (all times local):

11:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump joked with medical professionals about his political rally crowd sizes as he toured an El Paso hospital in the wake of Saturday's mass shooting.

According to video obtained by El Paso's CBS 4, Trump praised medical professionals during his visit Wednesday at University Medical Center of El Paso for their response to the shooting. He said: "They're talking about you all over the world." News cameras were not permitted to document Trump's exchanges with victims and medical professionals at the hospital.

Trump brought up his campaign rally in the city earlier this year, maintaining he had twice the number of attendees outside the arena as inside. Drawing laughs from the medical staff, he also took a swipe at Beto O'Rourke, a would-be 2020 Democratic rival who previously represented the city in Congress, saying "he had like 400 people in a parking lot," at a counter-rally.

___

8 p.m.

President Donald Trump has wrapped up his visits to cities reeling from mass shootings that left 31 dead and dozens more wounded. He was greeted by protesters in both cities.

The president and first lady Melania Trump flew to El Paso, Texas, Wednesday afternoon after visiting the Dayton, Ohio, hospital where many of the victims of Sunday's attack in that city were treated. For most of the day, the president was kept out of view of the reporters traveling with him.

Outside Dayton's Miami Valley Hospital, at least 200 protesters gathered, blaming Trump's incendiary rhetoric for inflaming political and racial tensions in the country and demanding action on gun control.

In El Paso, Trump's motorcade passed protesters holding "Racist Go Home" signs.

__

5:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are at the University Medical Center of El Paso, Texas, visiting with survivors of the weekend shooting that killed 22 people.

The presidential motorcade arrived at the hospital under tight security. Law enforcement officers toted long guns and some had riot gear.

A rally protest to fight white supremacy and demand gun control was planned.

Some Democrats and residents of El Paso say Trump's fiery rhetoric has fostered the kind of anti-immigrant hatred that could have contributed to Saturday's attack. The suspected gunman apparently wrote an anti-Hispanic rant before the attack.

Speaking to several hundred people, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke said immigrants had made El Paso one of the safest cities in America, before Saturday's shooting.

__

4:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump has arrived in Texas, the site of one of two weekend shooting rampages that left more than 30 people dead in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, and spawned calls for gun legislation.

As happened earlier Wednesday in Dayton, Trump was being greeted by protesters demanding gun-control reform and an end to caustic rhetoric — including some from the president — that is believed to be contributing to a culture of violence in America.

During the flight from Dayton to El Paso, Trump tweeted photos of he and first lady Melania Trump visiting wounded patients at a hospital. Trump posed for photos with medical staff and spoke with law enforcement officials, giving a "thumbs up" in one.

Trump tweeted, "The people I met in Dayton are the finest anywhere!"

__

3:20 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden says President Donald Trump is "fueling a literal carnage" in America with his incendiary rhetoric and racist attacks.

The Democratic presidential front-runner says in Iowa that Trump is incapable of offering the moral leadership that has defined the presidency over the course of history.

He says voters "cannot let this man be re-elected president of the United States of America."

Biden's remarks come as Trump visits Texas and Ohio in the wake of two mass killings over the weekend. Biden says Trump's "low energy" repudiation of the white supremacy connected to the El Paso massacre is not credible given the president's attacks on immigrants and people of color.

___

2:50 p.m.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham characterized President Donald Trump's meeting with Democratic officials in Dayton, Ohio, as "very warm" as the group visited victims of a weekend mass shooting.

Then Grisham tweeted against those same officials over their press conference after Trump's visit.

Sen. Sherrod Brown and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, both Democrats, told a news conference after Trump's visit they had talked to the president about support for various gun control measures. Both criticized Trump's inflammatory rhetoric, with Brown saying he was "concerned about a president that divides in his rhetoric and plays to race in his rhetoric."

Grisham said the conversation with the Ohio officials "wasn't about supportive or not supportive." She added that the president was received "very warmly." And she said that none of the victims Trump spoke with at the hospital discussed gun control.

Grisham's words were relayed to news outlets in a call from Air Force One as Trump was en route to El Paso, Texas, the scene of another weekend mass shooting.

Later, Grisham tweeted that "it is genuinely sad" to see Brown and Whaley, after accompanying Trump on his visit to victims, "immediately hold such a dishonest press conference in the name of partisan politics."

__

2:40 p.m.

Ohio Democratic officials say they were gratified by President Donald Trump's visit to the Dayton, the scene of a weekend mass shooting, and said Trump was treated respectfully, despite the fact some didn't agree with his past rhetoric or policies.

Mayor Nan Whaley told reporters she felt those affected by Sunday's shooting that left nine dead and dozens injured appreciated his visit. She has been critical of Trump's response to the shootings and had told citizens to feel free to voice their dissatisfaction. Hundreds did so Wednesday in protest of Trump's visit.

Sen. Sherrod Brown said that while he is "concerned about a president that divides in his rhetoric and plays to race in his rhetoric," Trump "did the right things" in his visit to survivors in the hospital and first responders. He said that privately, some people told him they weren't Trump admirers but "showed respect for the office."

Whaley and Brown said they urged Trump to push gun restrictions in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate. Whaley said she bolstered her pitch by noting Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, voted for an assault weapons ban while in Congress.

__

1:30 p.m.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is calling for rural voters to engage in the gun control debate as she campaigns in Iowa.

She says, "I think we need rural voices in this gun debate as we head into the next few months."

Klobuchar is running to be the Democratic presidential nominee and spoke during a campaign stop at a farm in Ankeny, Iowa.

She urged her colleagues in the Senate and President Donald Trump to step up and tackle the issue of gun violence, noting that a number of gun-control bills have bipartisan support and saying "we have extraordinary power in Washington, D.C., but there has not been extraordinary courage."

Klobuchar declined to criticize the president for visiting Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, despite community pushback. But she did say that Trump should use his sway over the Republican Party to get something done on gun control, noting his expressed support for improving background checks.

She told reporters, "There's absolutely no way he couldn't get this done if he wanted to."

___

12:20 p.m.

The White House is inviting internet and technology companies for a roundtable discussion on violent extremism online.

The meeting to be held on Friday follows a pair of mass shootings that some believe were fueled by online violence and hate.

The White House did not immediately release the names of the companies invited to the meeting, which will be led by White House staff. President Donald Trump is not expected to attend.

Trump this week directed the Justice Department to work with online platforms and state and local governments to "develop tools that can detect mass shooters before they strike."

Some Republicans have blamed the shootings on video games and internet culture. Democrats point to Trump's rhetoric as fostering an environment of hate that led to violence.

___

11:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump and the first lady are heading to the hospital in Dayton, Ohio, where many of the victims of Sunday's attack were treated.

The White House says Trump will be visiting Miami Valley Hospital to thank first responders and hospital staff, as well as meet with victims and their families.

At least 200 protesters have gathered outside the hospital hoping to send a message to the president that he's not welcome in the city.

Connor Betts opened fire in Dayton's Oregon district early Sunday morning, killing nine people, including his 22-year-old sister, before officers fatally shot him within 30 seconds of the start of his rampage.

Later Wednesday, Trump will travel to El Paso, Texas — the site of the second mass shooting last weekend.

___

11:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump's arrival Wednesday in an Ohio city grieving after a mass shooting was met with protests.

Several hundred demonstrators lined the streets in Dayton and chanted "Do Something!" which has become the city's anti-gun rallying cry since nine people were killed in a shooting early Sunday morning.

Trump's visit has sparked anger over his divisive rhetoric and lack of support for gun control. He is expected to visit with victims and first responders.

Dorothee Bouquet stood with her two children, ages five and two. She said she told the kids they were going to a protest "to tell grown-ups to make better rules."

Later Wednesday, Trump will travel to El Paso, Texas, the site of the other weekend mass shooting.

___

10:20 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker says racism and white supremacy are "issues of national security."

The New Jersey senator didn't mention President Donald Trump by name in South Carolina on Wednesday but used some of the president's own words to call out the racism Booker says underlies much of the violence in the country, including recent attacks that killed 31 in El Paso and Dayton.

Booker said white supremacy "allows political leaders to promise to 'build the wall' — while not building hospitals, schools, or infrastructure." Trump has pushed to build a wall along the Mexico border.

Booker made his address in the sanctuary of Mother Emanuel AME, a historic South Carolina church where nine Bible study participants were slain in a 2015 racist attack.

___

10 a.m.

President Donald Trump is defending his incendiary rhetoric in the wake of two mass shootings.

Trump said while leaving the White House on Wednesday to visit Ohio and Texas that he doesn't think his rhetoric has contributed to violence, even though some of his words mirror language linked to one of the weekend's shooters.

The Republican president says, "No, I don't think my rhetoric has at all." He claims his rhetoric "brings people together."

Democrats vying to challenge Trump in the 2020 election have been nearly unanimous in excoriating Trump for rhetoric they say nurtured the racist attitudes of the El Paso shooter.

Trump also says he is "concerned about the rise of any group of hate," whether it's white supremacy, "any other kind of supremacy" or anti-fascist groups.

Trump says he's going to "do something about it," but he doesn't say what.

___

9:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump is claiming that there is a "very strong" political appetite in Congress for bipartisan legislation that would address background checks or some restrictions for gun users.

The House passed legislation in February that would require federal background checks for all firearms sales and transfers, including those sold online or at gun shows. Another bill allows an expanded 10-day review for gun purchases. The bills have languished in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Another bipartisan proposal is gaining momentum to create a federal grant program to encourage states to adopt "red flag" laws to take guns away from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others.

Trump told reporters as he left the White House Wednesday to visit Ohio and Texas, the scene of weekend mass shootings, that he has had "plenty of talks" with lawmakers. He claimed, "There's a great appetite, and I mean a very strong appetite, for background checks. And I think we can bring up background checks like we've never had before."

Earlier this week, Trump claimed he favored "strong background checks" but never provided details.

___

8:10 a.m.

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke is attending an El Paso, Texas community rally timed to serve as counterprogramming to President Donald Trump's visit.

An El Paso native, O'Rourke will address the #ElPasoStrong event at a park Wednesday afternoon, during Trump's visit. O'Rourke is also attending a morning remembrance at a high school and making an evening visit to a makeshift memorial outside the Walmart where a gunman killed 22 people.

In February, during a packed Trump rally in El Paso supporting a U.S.-Mexico border wall, O'Rourke drew thousands with his own counter speech across the street.

Trump tweeted that he had "trounced" O'Rourke at those dueling February events, adding that O'Rourke should respect victims and law enforcement and "be quiet."

O'Rourke tweeted: "El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I."

___

12:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump's plan to carry a message of national unity and healing to the sites of the most recent mass shootings in America is drawing skepticism from some local residents as well as Democratic candidates.

Trump is expected to visit Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday morning and El Paso, Texas, in the afternoon to praise first responders and console family members and survivors. A White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, says Trump also wants to have a conversation about ways to head off such violence in the future.

Critics of the president point to his own divisive language and his anti-immigrant rhetoric that sounds much like that of the El Paso gunman. Some go so far as to say he has helped to create the hatred that made the shootings possible.

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