Following his visit to Dayton's Miami Valley Hospital to see a dozen victims of Aug. 4's deadly mass shooting in the city's Oregon District, President Donald Trump praised the city, but lit into its Mayor Nan Whaley and Ohio's U.S Sen. Sherrod Brown, both Democrats.
Trump accused the two of "mischaracterizing" his visit to the hospital. However, Brown and Whaley, who accompanied the president at that visit, praised Trump for his actions there at a news conference earlier in the day.
"Just left Dayton, Ohio, where I met with the Victims & families, Law Enforcement, Medical Staff & First Responders," Trump wrote in a series of tweets as he was aboard Air Force One leaving Dayton. "It was a warm & wonderful visit. Tremendous enthusiasm & even Love. Then I saw failed Presidential Candidate (0%) Sherrod Brown & Mayor Whaley totally misrepresenting what took place inside of the hospital. Their news conference after I left for El Paso was a fraud. It bore no resemblance to what took place with those incredible people that I was so lucky to meet and spend time with. They were all amazing!”
Brown characterized Trump as "comforting" during the news conference, while Whaley expressed gratitude on behalf of the people of Dayton for Trump's hospital visit.
"He was received well by the patients as you'd expect," Brown said. "They're hurting. He did the right things. Melania did the right things. It’s his job to comfort people. I’m glad he did it in those hospital rooms.”
Reporters were not permitted to accompany the president, Whaley, Brown and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman during the visit.
Whaley expressed confusion at Trump's characterization of her remarks. Brown later called the president "a bully" and said it was fine for Trump to pick on politicians, but that he should be taking action for the citizens of Dayton.
"Not sure what the President thinks @SenSherrodBrown
and I misrepresented," Whaley later tweeted. "As we said, the victims and first responders were comforted by his presence. Let’s hope he’s not one of these all talk, no action politicians and actually does something on gun control."
Both Brown and Whaley acknowledged that they pushed Trump on gun control measures, including bans on assault weapons, during their brief time together.
And both have been critical of the president in other ways. Whaley said yesterday that she was glad that Trump didn't visit the Oregon District, where protesters had gathered, because "his talk can be very divisive, and that's the last thing we need in Dayton."
Brown said he asked Trump to tell Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to reconvene the Senate, now on recess, to vote on gun control legislation. He said Trump pledged to "get things done," but did not offer specifics.
The Ohio Republican Party doubled down on Trump's seeming mischaracterizations of Whaley and Brown's remarks, as did White House director of social media Dan Scavino. The president was treated "like a rock star," Scavino tweeted.
"Very SAD to see Ohio Senator Brown, & Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley - LYING & completely mischaracterizing what took place w/ the President’s visit to Miami Valley Hospital today," Scavino's tweet reads. "They are disgraceful politicians, doing nothing but politicizing a mass shooting, at every turn they can."
The White House released a video of the president's visit, complete with a soundtrack, and photos of the president greeting victims. That too stoked controversy.
"This is not a TV show," Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Pepper said in a statement following the release of the material. "To treat them as such, while unleashing orchestrated and false attacks against respected community leaders at the very moment they are working 24/7 to recover and heal, is despicable behavior.”