President Donald Trump addressed a raucous crowd at a campaign rally on Tuesday night in Phoenix, Arizona, unleashing a lengthy tirade at the media in which he rehashed his highly criticised response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month.
Trump opened his speech with mostly low-key remarks, touting his overall agenda and applauding his Cabinet.
“Right now, we are all Americans, and we all believe in America first,” Trump said.
But he quickly moved to bash the media over his response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that turned deadly earlier this month. Rehashing his initial response to the rally, Trump read what he said were his original prepared remarks.
Trump read back the initial response he gave on that day, without mentioning that he blamed “many sides” for the violence that erupted — words that had earned him intense condemnation.
The president on Tuesday night told the Arizona crowd that he called out neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups that organised and led the rally in his first statement on August 12. But he had not done so until 48 hours after his initial statement, following sharp criticism from Republican and Democratic leaders.
The president bristled at critics who said his condemnation of neo-Nazis and white supremacists — which he called out by name for the first time on August 14 — were not delivered in a timely manner.
“He was late!” Trump said, impersonating a media commentator.
He then moved on to rehash comments he made while taking questions at a press conference on August 15, without mentioning that he offered an impassioned defence of people who marched with white supremacists at the Charlottesville rally and asserted that there were some “very fine people” among those demonstrators.
Those remarks earned Trump some sharp rebukes far and wide — including from business leaders, many of whom stepped down from Trump’s various business councils in protest.
Nevertheless, Trump said, “the words were perfect.”
Trump also complained that the media did not apply the same criticism to President Barack Obama for his refusal to ascribe acts of terror to “radical” Islam, a phrase his own national security adviser has pushed him against using.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll on Monday showed 28% of respondents approved of the way Trump addressed the rally and its fallout, with 56% disapproving. Overall, just 9% of respondents said it was acceptable to support neo-Nazi and white supremacist views, while 83% said it was unacceptable.
Watch part of his comments below:
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