During a campaign rally in Columbia, MO, on Thursday night, Trump said that the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and mail bombs sent to high-profile Democrats and others “completely stopped” his “momentum” going into the midterm elections.
“We did have two maniacs stop a momentum that was incredible, because for seven days nobody talked about the elections,” Trump said. “It stopped a tremendous momentum.”
Trump did appear to realize what he was saying didn’t sound so good, so he started to hedge.
“More importantly, we have to take care of our people and we don’t care about momentum when it comes to a disgrace like what happened to our country,” he said. “But it did nevertheless stop a certain momentum and now the momentum is picking up.”
Trump sees everything through a lens of how it affects him personally, so this isn’t particularly surprising, but it’s still a shock to see a leader so emotionally divested from these attacks that he can get halfway through a sentence before realizing that people actually died and he’s, you know, president.
At this point, expecting Trump to have a presidential response to a national tragedy is completely off the table—now we all just get to watch and see how he possibly makes things worse. Immediately after the shooting, he tried to blame the tragedy on the synagogue for not having an armed guard.
There was little chance, from the start, that Trump would acknowledge his own role stirring up the rhetoric of hate and violence that enabled both attackers. Trump did acknowledge that mail bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc, who by all accounts is a MAGA superfan, “preferred him over others,” but that’s about as far as we got.
The midterms are four days away. Pittsburgh is still mourning. Trump seems most grateful that the news cycle has moved on.