Trump 'has done a lot to bring country together,' says White House over possible Gettysburg event

President has been sharply criticised for string of racially tinged remarks and tweets

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Monday 10 August 2020 19:49
White House says Trump has worked to bring country together

Donald Trump said on Monday he might deliver his GOP nomination acceptance speech at the Gettysburg battlefield where more than 7,000 Americans died during the Civil War, floating the idea after stoking racial tensions for months.

Asked about the president's announcement in a tweet as she began a press briefing, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany ignored Mr Trump's description of all protesters objecting to racial inequality as "thugs" and "anarchists" by claiming: "The president has done a lot to bring this country together."

Her comment came after Mr Trump again urged local officials in Portland to deploy National Guard troops into streets there to quell protests that often turn violent.

On Sunday night, city officials declared the scene a riot and allowed local police officers to use some force to calm the situation.

Mr Trump also last week, in an interview with Axios, refused to say the late Congressman John Lewis, who was injured during Civil Rights Era protests, was a hero. He also refused to say Mr Lewis' life story was an inspiring one.

The president, who opted against paying his respects while Mr Lewis' casket was lain in state at the US Capitol, instead said he did not know Mr Lewis, and criticised him for skipping his Inauguration speech and his addresses to a joint session of Congress.

As he has for years, Mr Trump has criticised professional athletes, many of whom are black, for protesting racial inequality by kneeling during the national anthem.

He delivered a June speech, amid a major shift in public opinion on issues of race, that was widely taken as a pro-police speech that failed to address black America's concerns about law enforcement officers treatment of people of colour.

Joe Biden, the former vice president and the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, has said Mr Trump is America's first racist president.

But Mr Trump often claims he has done more for black Americans, citing pre-Covid unemployment figures, than any other US chief executive. He has largely dropped his line during public events that Abraham Lincoln, who ordered all black slaves freed, might have done more.

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