Positive messages from President Donald Trump about racists and white supremacists encourage violence, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg charges in a CBS interview.
Bloomberg said he did not think Democrats were wrong to link Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric to the mass shooting in El Paso that killed 22 people in a targeted attack against Mexicans.
“Words matter,” Bloomberg said on Face the Nation in an interview that’s airing Sunday. “The public reads, watches, listens” to what their leaders say, and that “changes their behavior,” he added. “People look to their leadership for guidance, and to say that it doesn’t have an effect is wrong.”
So “what the president says is very important, and if he supports or says nice things about racists, it encourages racism. If he goes and says nice things about white supremacists, he encourages that kind of violence,” said the billionaire.
Trump “cannot go and just shoot off his mouth and say anything,” Bloomberg emphasized.
“He’s the president of the United States, and he’s not elected to run the Republican Party or the Democratic Party … he’s elected to run America, the American government, and he’s got to represent everybody, whether he agrees with them or not,” he said.
Trump has been heavily criticized in the wake of the El Paso attack for his messages bashing immigrants and people of color. An anti-immigrant manifesto authorities believe may be linked to the suspected gunman echoes Trump’s language about a Hispanic “invasion” in America. The gunman told police he was targeting Mexicans, according to authorities.