White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley on Tuesday defended President Donald Trump’s call for unity after multiple mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
In his comments, which came during a Fox News interview Tuesday afternoon, Gidley accused President Barack Obama of taking the country “to a dark place” by speaking out against Trump’s previous divisive rhetoric following those attacks. He also suggested the White House would never blame Democratic lawmakers for inspiring similar tragedies across the country.
Gidley tied Obama, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to a spate of violent attacks (without evidence).
“We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments,” Obama said Monday, “‘leaders who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that American belongs to just one certain type of people.”
Obama also called upon Americans to reject such rhetoric “clearly and unequivocally.”
Host Melissa Francis asked Gidley about Obama’s comments after the shootings, specifically the former president’s jab at Trump for fanning the flames of extremism. Gidley appeared to suggest Tuesday that Obama had missed his chance to make a difference on gun reform when he was president.
“For him to interject himself into this conversation, this debate, at this point, it’s his right to do it,” he said. “But the fact is Donald Trump is the president of all Americans. He’s trying to move this country forward, and comments like that take us backwards and take us to a dark place that we never want to be and we never want to visit again.”
Gidley did not explain what he meant by “a dark place,” but he seemed to be suggesting that Obama’s condemnations of racism could do more to harm the country than Trump’s actual racism.
Gidley’s comments Tuesday came hours after counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway complained that many had blamed Trump’s racism for the rise in white nationalist violence.
Trump has been calling for unity, she insisted. She added that she was “hopping mad” the media hadn’t found more ways to blame liberals for mass tragedies.