(BEDMINSTER, N.J.) — President Donald Trump denounced “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” Saturday as a white nationalist rally and counter-protest rattled Charlottesville, Virginia, leaving at least one person dead after a car drove through a group in that city’s downtown.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides,” said Trump in remarks from his golf club in New Jersey, where he was scheduled to sign a law on veteran employment.
The president faced widespread criticism in the aftermath of his comments, including from politicians of both parties. Many condemned Trump’s “many sides” line, questioned why he has not reproached white nationalism, and asked why the attack — which did not garner a specific reference in the president’s speech — was not labelled a terrorist incident.
“Mr. President – we must call evil by its name,” wrote Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado on Twitter. “These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”
Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism. https://t.co/PaPNiPPAoW
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) August 12, 2017
In response to the attention received by Trump’s choice of words, a White House official elaborated that “there was violence between protesters and counter-protesters today.”
The driver of the car involved in the incident was in police custody Saturday afternoon, and an additional 19 people were being treated for injuries, according to the Charlottesville Police.
After noting that the issues being confronted in Virginia have “been going on for a long time in our country,” Trump called for “a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.”
“We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation, and — really, I say this so strongly — true for each other,” said Trump, who then pivoted to a discussion about the decine in the United States’ unemployment rate and manufacturing growth, before returning to the subject of national unity.
“We must love each other, respect each other and cherish our history and our future together,” he continued. “So important. We have to respect each other. Ideally we have to love each other.”
Earlier in the day, Trump joined a chorus of figures from across the U.S. political spectrum to speak out against the white nationalist rally, tweeting, “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!”
We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
He was joined by Vice President Mike Pence as well as First Lady Melania Trump in speaking out about the situation.
“Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence. #Charlottesville,” Melania Trump wrote on Twitter.
Some on social media criticized the timing of Trump’s response to the rally, noting that it emerged after several other prominent political figures had already spoken out about the event.
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