DAYTON, OHIO — Minutes after visiting this city, still reeling from Sunday’s mass shooting, President Donald Trump attacked Mayor Nan Whaley and Sen. Sherrod Brown on Twitter Wednesday, claiming the two misrepresented his trip to a hospital where many of the victims had been treated.
Trump tweeted this aboard Air Force One:
“Just left Dayton, Ohio, where I met with the Victims & families, Law Enforcement, Medical Staff & First Responders. It was a warm & wonderful visit. Tremendous enthusiasm & even Love. Then I saw failed Presidential Candidate (0%) Sherrod Brown & Mayor Whaley totally ... misrepresenting what took place inside of the hospital. Their news conference after I left for El Paso was a fraud. It bore no resemblance to what took place with those incredible people that I was so lucky to meet and spend time with. They were all amazing!o "(sic)
After meeting with Trump at Miami Valley Hospital, Whaley and Brown held a news conference and Whaley said she wasn’t sure if Trump would take action on gun laws,
“Do I think we’re going to see another mass shooting tomorrow or Friday? Probably. Because Washington will do nothing,” Whaley said.
Whaley responded to Trump with a tweet of her own, expressing confusion toward the president’s criticism.
“Not sure what the President thinks @SenSherrodBrown and I misrepresented," she tweeted. "As we said, the victims and first responders were comforted by his presence. Let’s hope he’s not one of these all talk, no action politicians and actually does something on gun control. #DoSomething.”
Trump was visiting Dayton after a gunman shot and killed nine people at the Oregon entertainment district early Sunday morning. On Monday, in an address to the nation, Trump called for the passage of “red flag laws,” his strongest push for gun control since he took office.
Trump did not speak with reporters in Dayton.
The president may not have heard everything Whaley and Brown said about him in their news conference. Although Whaley had previously expressed concerned that Trump’s visit with first lady Melania Trump might do more harm than good, their first reaction was that the president hit the right notes.
“I think the victims and the first responders were grateful that the President of the United States came to Dayton,” said Whaley, who added that she felt it was probably good Trump did not visit the site of the shooting.
“A lot of the time his talk can be very divisive, and that’s the last thing we need in Dayton,” she said.
"I reiterated to the president the importance of action, and that the people of Dayton are waiting for action around the issue of guns from Washington, D.C."
“He was received well by the patients as you'd expect. They're hurting," Brown said. "He was comforting, he did the right things, and Melania did the right things. It’s his job, in part, to comfort people. I'm glad he did it."
Brown added that he was “very concerned about a president that divides in his rhetoric and plays to race in his rhetoric."
Brown called on the president to increase advocacy for mental health services and push for stricter gun control.
“The most important thing [Trump] can do for these police officers is take these assault weapons off the streets,” Brown said. He added that he asked the president to call on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the Senate back in session this week.
In a statement, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper accused Trump of “despicable behavior” by making “false attacks” against Whaley and Brown and turning his hospital visit into a “television shoot.”
“Sen. Sherrod Brown and Mayor Nan Whaley welcomed the president to Dayton, spoke respectfully about his visit, while civilly and honestly pointing out areas of disagreement and challenge," Pepper said.
“Our communities and our families are not props, Mr. President. This is not a TV show. To treat them as such, while unleashing orchestrated and false attacks against respected community leaders at the very moment they are working 24/7 to recover and heal, is despicable behavior."
Scripps National contributed to this report.