President Donald Trump, speaking at a Wisconsin rally following the discovery of explosive devices sent to CNN and a number of top Democrats, said those in the political arena “must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective.”
But he did not make any acknowledgement of his own political rhetoric, in which he has recently called Democratic rivals “evil,” and instead referred to his own grievances about what has been said about him or of protests to his administration.
“No one should carelessly compare political opponents to historical villains,” he said. “…We should not mob people in public spaces or destroy public property.” Some of Trump’s most vocal critics have compared him to Adolf Hitler, and members of his administration have been hounded by protesters in D.C. restaurants.
He also said the media plays a role in the overheated rhetoric.
“As part of larger national effort to bridge our divides and bring people together, the media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories,” he said.
Trump has attacked the “fake news media” as the “enemy of the American people,” and he and his press team have complained repeatedly about the negative tone of coverage. Last week, he praised a Montana congressman for body-slamming a reporter. He also has retweeted a video in which a wrestler body slams a person with “CNN” superimposed on his head.
Trump started the rally by referring to the discovery of the explosive devices. A suspicious package containing a pipe bomb was discovered in the CNN mailroom in New York and forced the evacuation of the building, while former President Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and billionaire donor George Soros were the intended recipients of other devices. The FBI also confirmed that two similar packages addressed to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) also were found.
“Any acts or threats of political violence are an attack on our democracy itself,” Trump said at the rally.
Trump admitted that given the events of the day, he was toning it down a bit.
He told the crowd, “Do you see how nice I’m behaving today? …We’re all behaving very well. And hopefully we can keep it that way. We’re gonna keep it that way.”
During the rally, the crowd briefly started chanting “CNN sucks” at one point. Before Trump arrived, a mention of the name of Hillary Clinton elicited a chant of “Lock Her Up,” words that have carried over from the 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump kept up his criticisms of Democrats, and continued to accuse them of favoring a policy of “open borders.”
“The Democrat Party is openly encouraging caravan after caravan of illegal aliens to violate our laws and break into our country,” he said, but the party is not doing that.
At one point, when he was accusing Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) of favoring a “socialist takeover” of healthcare.
“I’m trying to say that very nicely,” he said.