After condemning shooting, Trump campaigns.
INDIANAPOLIS — President Donald Trump on Saturday strongly condemned the deadly mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue as “pure evil” and anti-Semitic, and then, without skipping a beat, slipped into campaign mode with attacks on trade deals, a discourse on palm trees and a dig at a potential 2020 rival.
Just over a week before midterm elections, the president traveled to Indiana for a convention speech and later a political rally in Illinois, though he joked about canceling both events because of a “bad hair day.”
“This wicked act of mass murder is pure evil, hard to believe and frankly something that is unimaginable, our nation and the world are shocked,” Trump told the audience at the National FFA Organization event, adding that the “vile, hatefilled poison of anti-Semitism” must be rejected, as should all prejudice.
‘Obligation to go’
The president said the shooting that killed 11 and left six wounded occurred at a baby-naming ceremony, which happens when an infant girl is 8 days old.
It was the second time in two days that the nation was left in shock — law enforcement arrested and charged a Florida man with sending mail bombs to prominent Democrats on Friday — and Americans awaited the president’s words.
Trump spoke out against political violence and antiSemitism. But he segued into his favorite topics, and the rally here had the incon- gruous feel of a somber tribute to yet another mass shooting in America and a campaign rally complete with cheers, put-downs and an upbeat soundtrack, including a version of the song “Happy” by Pharrell.
Trump took the stage to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA,” standing for a moment before the cheering crowd. Trump kept to his Saturday schedule.
“These are bad people. You can’t allow them to dominate what we do,” Trump said, referring to perpetrators of attacks like the one on the Pittsburgh synagogue. “So, I’ll go. Not that I want to go, but I think that I actually, in reverse, have an obligation to go.”
Trump also suggested that he should have skipped his trip because his hair looked bad after speaking to reporters about the shooting in the rain at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
“The wind was blowing and the rain, and I was soaking wet, and that’s what I ended up with today,” Trump said. “And I said maybe I should cancel this arrangement because I have a bad hair day.”
Trump brought two Indiana House members on stage. Each briefly spoke about how excited they were to work with the president and did not mention the synagogue shooting.
“Please get out and vote for them,” Trump said.
Call for death terms
Earlier in the day, when asked if he should revisit gun laws, Trump said, “this has little to do with it if you take a look. If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better.”
Trump has regularly suggested after numerous mass shootings that armed people could have averted bloodshed, even though armed officials are often present. Officials in Pittsburgh said four police officers were shot and wounded by the gunman, identified by police as 46-year-old Robert Bowers.
The president also called for stiffer laws and greater use of the death penalty.
“I think they should very much bring the death penalty into vogue. Anybody that does a thing like this to innocent people that are in temple or in church — we had so many incidents with churches — they should be — they should really suffer the ultimate price.”
President Donald Trump embraces Rabbi Benjamin Sendrow after praying at the Future Farmers of America Convention and Expo on Saturday.