During a White House press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump appeared confident his campaign rhetoric wasn’t offensive.
He dismissed an Israeli reporter who accused his presidency of being associated with a “sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the United States,” responding that he was “honored by the victory that we had.”
The Wednesday presser was criticized in the media over “softball” questions mostly due to the fact Trump, much like presidents before him, handpicks which reporters are allowed to participate. It's a reality that helped Trump avoid being grilled on Michael Flynn’s resignation during the joint news conference he held with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
During the Netanyahu conference, however, a reporter pressed Trump on comments with racist tones uttered during the campaign, asking the president what he had to say “to those among the Jewish community in the states and Israel and maybe around the world who believe and feel that your administration is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones?”
Instead of offering a straight answer, Trump skirted the subject by bragging about his election results.
“Three hundred and six electoral college votes,” he said enthusiastically while explaining his campaign wasn’t expected to get 221. Instead, he added, 270 votes were factored in. He then finished his remarks on this subject by saying:
“We are going to have peace in this country, we are going to stop crime in this country, we are going to do everything within our power to stop long-simmering racism and every other thing that’s going on because a lot of bad things have taken place over a long period of time. I think one of the reasons I won the election is we have a very, very divided nation. Very divided.”
Without making any reference to his behavior during the presidential campaign, Trump promised that "a lot" will change “over the next three, four, or eight years.”
“I think a lot of good things are happening, and you’re going to see a lot of love. You’re going to see a lot of love,” he concluded.
Despite these most recent comments, many groups of Americans say they feel victimized by Trump’s manners while on the campaign trail, which lead them to believe the Republican president wouldn’t be concerned with their personal struggles.
It will take a lot more than a promise to bring those who feel marginalized to his side.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Lucy Nicholson