WASHINGTON – On the same day that thousands of protesters marched in Washington to demand an end to racism, President Donald Trump accused the media of stoking racial divisions Friday in his first campaign stop after formally accepting his party’s nomination for a second term.
Trump told supporters at a rally at an airport hangar near Manchester, New Hampshire, that “radical Democrats” and news organizations are tearing the country apart.
“There’s so much racial hatred, and it’s put there by CNN, by MSDNC,” he said, invoking his nickname for the MSNBC.
“They stoke the flames, and they know it,” he said. “The good news is their ratings aren’t great.”
Trump’s remarks in New Hampshire came just hours after he formally accepted his party’s nomination for a second term with a renomination speech and made-for-television spectacle on the White House South Lawn, capping off the Republican National Convention.
Trump’s remarks came on the same day that thousands converged on Washington to demand long-lasting change to end systemic racism as the country reels from police killings of Black people this year that have fueled nationwide protests.
The Get Your Knee Off Our Necks Commitment March on Washington, organized by Rev. Al Sharpton, marked the 57th anniversary of the historic March on Washington where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech.
Trump on Thursday night formally accepted his party’s nomination for reelection in an event filled with pomp and circumstance.
In a 70-minute address at the White House, Trump boasted about parts of his record during his first four years in office and promised that, if given a second term, he would “again build the greatest economy in history,” lead the nation into new frontiers and rekindle faith in American values.
But he also delivered a series of dark, blistering attacks against Democratic challenger Joe Biden, calling the former vice president “a destroyer of jobs” and a “Trojan horse for socialism” – a blistering attack that he repeated Friday in New Hampshire.
In remarks often interrupted by chants of “four more years,” Trump claimed that the Democratic Party “is filled with hate.”
As evidence, he pointed to the hundreds of protesters who gathered outside the White House during his speech Thursday night and banged drums, played loud music, set off firecrackers and used bullhorns and whistles to try to disrupt his remarks.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he and his wife, Kelley, were surrounded by what he called “an angry mob” after leaving the White House and heading back to his hotel following Trump’s speech. Videos showed police surrounding the Pauls and telling protesters to move back.
Trump said the police officers who protected the Pauls should be invited to the White House and given a medal. He called the protesters “a bunch thugs” and faulted the city’s Democratic mayor, Muriel Bowser, for failing to restore order.
“We’re going to have to look at it,” he said, “because we’re not going to let that happen to people that go to the White House to celebrate our country.”
If Biden is elected, he said, “the agitators will go from rioting in the streets to running the halls of government.”
“No one will be safe in Biden’s America,” he said.
In a prebuttal to the rally, Biden issued a statement early Friday slamming Trump for “bringing his message of division, lies and chaos to New Hampshire.”
Biden said Trump’s “mismanagement” of the coronavirus pandemic has led to 430 deaths in the Granite State, caused hundreds of small businesses to close and put thousands of people out of work across the state.
“Granite State families deserve a president who will heal and unite our nation and make sure New Hampshire communities recover from this crisis stronger than they were before,” Biden said. “As president, I will restore the decency and leadership to the White House that has been eroded under the current administration and provide all Granite Staters the dignity and respect that they deserve.”
With the election just two months away, polls show Trump trailing Biden nationwide and in most key swing states.
Trump lost New Hampshire to Democrat Hillary Clinton four years ago by just 2,736 votes. But a poll released last week by St. Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics showed him trailing Biden in the Granite State by 8 points.
The New Hampshire event was a do-over of sorts: A rally scheduled for Portsmouth in July was canceled at the last minute amid threats of bad weather that never materialized.
Michael Collins covers the White House. Reach him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.