Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley poked at Donald Trump on Thursday, saying she has no idea why the president lashed out at her and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown after they held a press conference urging him to back new gun control measures.
Whaley said she hopes he is not ‘an all-talk president,’ echoing a line Trump deployed dozens of times in 2015 and 2016 to distinguish himself from other politicians.
Whaley said Thursday morning on CNN that she was shocked by the president’s outrage after he saw live footage of them taking reporters’ questions while he flew between Dayton and El Paso, Texas on a tour of the cities where mass-shootings played out Saturday.
‘I really don’t know why that reaction happened for him,’ she said. The White House had pilloried Whaley and Brown alternatively for turning a goodwill visit into a golden moment about gun-control politics, and for not describing in sufficiently glowing terms the hero’s welcome Trump received at the Dayton hospital that was treating survivors.
But Whaley said Thursday that ‘we’ve been very open about us wanting the state and federal government to do something around gun control. We shared that with the president.’
‘He was well-received by victims and first responders,’ she added, echoing muted praise Brown had offered a day earlier. ‘So, yeah, I’m at a loss for why all this vitriol came immediately after he had a good visit at the hospital.’
Trump told reporters in El Paso on Wednesday night that Brown and Whaley had asked his permission to be part of his group touring the hospital, and that staff and patients had shown ‘love [and]respect for the office of the presidency. I wish you could have been in there to see it.’
‘I turned on the television and there they were saying, “Oh, I don’t know if it was appropriate for the president to be there,” et cetera, et cetera. You know, the same old line. They’re very dishonest people.’
Footage surfaced online Wednesday evening of Whaley reacting to Trump’s social-media complaints: ‘I don’t know what he’s talking about,’ she said after she saw his commentary. ‘Oh, well, you know? He lives in his world of Twitter.’
Whaley said Thursday that she has seen ‘bipartisan support’ for gun control emerge in the days since nine Daytonians lost their lives in a hail of gunfire. And while Trump made her no promises about legislation he might sign, ‘what we’re hoping to see is some action, and we’re hoping he’s just not an all-talk politician.’
Whaley said Trump’s visit was a strain on her community because he ‘is hyper, hyper-partisan and people have very strong feelings about him on both sides.’
When the Mayor of Dayton first saw @realDonaldTrump tweet about her pic.twitter.com/Z8YdyeebXp
‘We saw all the tensions rise between pro- and and anti-Trump folks,’ she said of pop-up protests near the site of the shooting. ‘Even though he wasn’t there, just him being in the city really exasperated [sic]the situation.’
‘As soon as he announced he was coming, you just felt the partisanship just really overwhelm the community, because everyone had an opinion on whether he should come or whether he shouldn’t. And you know, he’s created that with some of this vitriol that he moves in the Twittersphere.’
Whaley’s latest comments threaten to extend a spat that threatened to overshadow an otherwise ordinary consoler-in-chief visit by a president after a tragedy.
Trump’s Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told DailyMail.com on Wednesday that Brown and Whaley intentionally exaggerated the degree to which they claimed they pressed the president for action on gun control.
‘The two of them are playing up what little conversation they had, saying they made comments or demands and that’s just not true,’ Grisham said in an email.
‘The President allowed them to be part of the entire visit, which was very gracious of him. Their little press conference was clearly premeditated and not in the best interest of anyone but themselves.’
‘It’s a disservice to this country and I have a real problem with that,’ she said.
Trump himself tweeted a short video that played over a sentimental soundtrack, showing him and first lady Melania Trump posing for photos with doctors and nurses and comforting hospital staff. ‘Have you ever seen anything like this?’ he asks one group. Others, including a group of law enforcement officers, are shown greeting the first couple warmly.
The video ended with a message: ‘America stands with Ohio!’
The president also tweeted once he reached El Paso, Texas, the site of Saturday’s first gun massacre, that he had watched Brown and Whaley ‘misrepresenting what took place inside of the hospital.’
Brown had in fact been complimentary toward the president, acknowledging the warm welcome he received and his efforts to play the role of comforter-in-chief.
He told reporters that the president and first lady Melania Trump were ‘received well by the patients as you’d expect. They’re hurting.’
‘Well, he was comforting, and he did the right things, and Melania did the right things,’ the senator continued. ‘And it’s his job in part to comfort people. I’m glad he did it in those closed-door hospital rooms.’
Fox News Channel, which plays nonstop aboard Air Force One, broadcast those positive comments while Trump was en route to El Paso.
But Brown also discussed why he had initially balked at meeting with the president in Dayton, saying that ‘I didn’t want in any way to encourage the president’s racist talk, divisive talk.’
Brown added later that he was ‘very concerned about a president that divides in his rhetoric and plays to race in his rhetoric and is racist.’
Director of Oval Office Operations Dan Scavino tweeted that Brown and Whaley were ‘LYING & completely mischaracterizing what took place w/ the President’s visit to Miami Valley Hospital.’
‘They are disgraceful politicians, doing nothing but politicizing a mass shooting, at every turn they can. The President was treated like a Rock Star inside the hospital, which was all caught on video. They all loved seeing their great President!’
Scavino, who doubles as the president’s social media guru, attached four photos of the president apparently enjoying a hero’s welcome from doctors and nurses.
He cited ‘[s]ome extremely powerful moments throughout the entire visit, with so much enthusiasm and love, contrary to what the Trump Hating Dems would ever share or say.’
Trump retweeted that comment along with the photos.
Grisham told reporters aboard Air Force One as it flew to Texas that ‘there was no conversation about gun control’ while he was at the hospital.
But Brown and Whaley both said they had pressed Trump about the hot-button topic on the tarmac when he arrived.