Trump went to El Paso to console a grieving city but instead made it all about him and his grievances.
Trump used his visit to an El Paso hospital Wednesday to brag about himself and attack one of his political opponents, a video released by El Paso's local CBS affiliate shows.
After thanking University Medical Center hospital staff for the job they did responding to Saturday's mass shooting, Trump refocused the attention to himself.
"I was here three months ago; we made a speech," Trump said, referring to a campaign rally he held in El Paso in February.
"That place was packed," Trump said. "That was some crowd. We had twice the number outside." Fact-checkers at the time concluded the Trump rally did not have "twice the number outside."
Then Trump turned his attention to former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who was born in El Paso and held a rally the same day as Trump's in February. O'Rourke is one of several people running to be the Democratic nominee in 2020.
"And then you had this crazy Beto. Beto had, like, 400 people in a parking lot. They said his crowd was wonderful," Trump said. Trump had also publicly attacked O'Rourke earlier in the week, insisting El Paso's former congressman should "should respect the victims & law enforcement - & be quiet!"
Several reporters have said that locals are expressing nothing but gratitude for O'Rourke.
"I've been following Beto O'Rourke through his community as it mourns this week — and person after person has thanked him for being their voice, for sticking up for their community, for confronting the president. None of his neighbors are telling him to be quiet," wrote Washington Post reporter Jenna Johnson.
After Trump's February rally, the El Paso Fire Department said Trump's crowd was roughly 6,500 people, and police estimated O'Rourke's crowd to be between 10,000 and 15,000 people.
On Saturday, a white supremacist shot and killed 22 people in an El Paso Walmart. The shooter used the same type of anti-immigrant rhetoric used by Trump, and complained about an "invasion" from the southern border — the exact language Trump has repeatedly used to describe immigrants.
Even before Trump arrived in El Paso, many in the city pleaded with him to stay away and let the community heal. But Trump ignored their pleas and forced himself on the city anyway.
None of the survivors of the shooting still in the hospital would meet with Trump when he was there, according to the Washington Post. Several did meet earlier in the day with the city's congresswoman, Democrat Veronica Escobar.
Despite insistence from the White House earlier this week that Trump "recognizes the gravity of this moment," he was unable to resist turning a city's tragedy into an opportunity to once again make himself the center of attention and viciously lash out at his critics.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.