Officials: Trump has not spoken to bomb targets

Officials tell CNN's Jeff Zeleny that President Donald Trump has not reached out to the Clintons, the Obamas or others targeted in a series of attempted bombings, while House Speaker Paul Ryan has condemned the events as an act of terrorism.

Posted: Oct 25, 2018 7:49 PM
Updated: Oct 25, 2018 8:08 PM

Don't expect Donald Trump to repent for heating America's politics to a bitter boiling point, despite a day that could have turned into a tragedy after an unknown suspect mailed bombs to the President's favorite targets.

Trump did just about the bare minimum expected after the attempted attacks using improvised explosives on two of his predecessors, several other prominent political critics and the New York offices of CNN.

He called for national unity, promised to bring those responsible to justice and warned that political violence was an "attack on our democracy itself."

But there was no public acknowledgment that there can be consequences to the nation's most conspiratorial rhetoric and demagoguery -- violent, dehumanizing language he himself has spread as he lashes out at his opponents and whips up his supporters.

Characteristically, he undermined his scripted invocations of unity with fresh attacks of his own, implicitly blaming people who criticize him, the media and Democrats for the nation's dangerous political divides. He kept up the attacks Thursday morning, tweeting that "a very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media."

In effect, the President has chosen not to rise above the tumult or even console or counsel those who opposed him.

He did not mention the victims by name. Or give any indication that he is concerned that some people might see his flaming rhetoric as a spur to violence.

Trump's response to Wednesday's events was a reminder of the gap between presidential expectations and performance that has often been evident in his response to grave national moments, crises and natural disasters.

His defenders will argue that it is absurd that attacks against public figures and the media by an isolated "crazy person" could be blamed on a President -- who clearly had nothing to do with orchestrating the specific act.

They will also point out that Republicans can also come under fire: Republican Rep. Steve Scalise was severely injured in a shooting spree by a gunman who posted anti-Trump rhetoric on social media and supported Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential contender.

But it was perhaps not surprising that the President should not even reflect on how the fearsome political climate plays into such behavior -- even though the man in the Oval Office is often looked upon to set a moral example.

Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin told CNN's Don Lemon that Trump had missed a chance to show leadership. She said he could have styled the attempted attack on Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as an attack on all presidents, and the bomb sent to CNN as an attack on the free media.

"Everybody is hungering for that real unification," she said.

However, Trump's political method has often been based upon portraying opponents as a threat to America, eviscerating their characters and tearing at the nation's most painful political, social and racial divides.

RELATED: Eight unforgettable ways 1968 made history

People with long political memories are becoming increasingly worried. Half a century on from a year of blood and torment, 1968, which saw the political assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., there are again fears that sooner or later, a seething national mood will produce a tragedy that will haunt America for decades.

Trump only goes so far

Trump opened a rally in Wisconsin by condemning violence. But he then went on to lay blame elsewhere -- against some of the targets who were in the sights of the unknown bombmaker.

"We should not mob people in public spaces or destroy public property," Trump said, in a reference to liberal protests against GOP politicians.

In order to bridge political divides, he said, "the media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories."

The President also openly mocked calls for him to tone down his fiery style at Wednesday's event, a somewhat more subdued rally in which he eschewed some of his recent and most extreme attacks.

"I'm trying to be nice," he quipped. "Do you see how nice I'm behaving tonight?"

But Trump could not even bring himself to utter the names of former 2016 rival Hillary Clinton or former Presidents Clinton and Obama, after what were in essence assassination attempts and an attack on the presidency itself -- an institution that he now holds in trust.

White House sources told CNN that Trump had made no attempt to reach out to the former commanders-in-chief.

It was not the first time that critics had faulted Trump for not doing enough to cool political tensions. Last year, in Charlottesville, Virginia, he saw blame for "both sides" in violence that claimed the life of a young female anti-racism protester at a white supremacist rally.

His remarks in Wisconsin were a clear sign that though the White House sees a duty to track down the bombmaker and prevent future attacks, it also believes there is no link between them and Trump's rhetoric.

But had even one of Wednesday's devices, which authorities said were rudimentary but still threatening, exploded, America could have been mourning victims of a political debate that is raging out of control.

For many observers, Wednesday's drama was a sign that overheated political arguments have reached a perilous point.

"These attempted bombings are a clear sign that our civil discourse is so off track that it is becoming a national security threat," said Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse.

"There could be no stronger evidence that our words matter and have consequences," she said in a statement.

All blame is not equally shared

The President's insistence that all sides were to blame for the political climate also ignores his own prominent role in dragging public life into the gutter that is so unconventional that it undermines critiques that all politicians are equally to blame.

There is only one President who indulges his angry crowds when they shout "lock her up, lock her up," about Hillary Clinton -- a call for a political opponent to be thrown in jail.

There is only one President who has called the press "the enemy of the people" and who grins as his crowds berate reporters.

There is only one President who has praised a fellow Republican lawmaker for assaulting a reporter, as he did on the campaign trail last week.

It is not clear that the President could cool the rhetoric if he wanted to. What critics see as a wild and dangerous style is viewed by Trump loyalists as the golden key to his crusade against political correctness.

Trump's willingness to break the conventions of decorum and decency with demolishing attacks on his rivals, and a disregard for civility, are inseparable from his political appeal to the base on which he has built his political career.

But Wednesday's incidents are a reminder that in such a climate, somebody could get seriously hurt or even killed.

"The President and his allies, they need to dial down the political rhetoric," said Carrie Cordero, an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law, who is also a CNN analyst. "They are making people less safe, they are making journalists less safe, they are making law enforcement officials less safe."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 74992

Reported Deaths: 3044
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15963725
Lake7632275
Elkhart488385
Allen3937163
St. Joseph354682
Hamilton2803104
Vanderburgh199713
Hendricks1901108
Cass17969
Johnson1767118
Porter133839
Clark124447
Tippecanoe122111
Madison98765
LaPorte92130
Howard90565
Kosciusko86212
Bartholomew80147
Floyd79146
Marshall79022
Monroe75930
Delaware73852
Dubois70012
Noble68429
Boone68346
Hancock67038
Vigo66810
Jackson5885
Warrick58630
LaGrange55910
Shelby55827
Grant52830
Dearborn50828
Morgan48334
Clinton4403
Henry38520
Wayne37710
White37210
Montgomery35421
Lawrence35027
Harrison34123
Decatur33832
Putnam2908
Miami2742
Daviess27320
Scott26810
Greene25134
Jasper2452
Franklin24314
DeKalb2354
Gibson2284
Jennings22612
Steuben2113
Ripley2087
Carroll1932
Fayette1907
Perry18612
Starke1787
Posey1770
Orange17324
Wells1712
Wabash1703
Fulton1692
Jefferson1652
Knox1590
Whitley1546
Tipton14311
Washington1421
Spencer1363
Sullivan1341
Clay1245
Huntington1243
Randolph1234
Newton11810
Adams1022
Jay920
Owen911
Pulaski831
Rush804
Brown741
Fountain742
Blackford652
Ohio655
Benton620
Pike560
Vermillion550
Parke521
Switzerland520
Crawford450
Martin450
Union410
Warren231
Unassigned0206

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 101731

Reported Deaths: 3673
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18483525
Cuyahoga13640500
Hamilton9689255
Lucas5377323
Montgomery439894
Summit3573223
Butler294463
Marion292945
Mahoning2566254
Pickaway238742
Stark1844139
Warren180339
Lorain180278
Columbiana166560
Trumbull1534107
Fairfield140032
Delaware131619
Licking129949
Clark115814
Lake112438
Wood105858
Clermont94111
Medina93035
Miami85338
Tuscarawas78814
Portage76561
Allen76044
Greene70312
Mercer62513
Belmont62126
Richland60812
Erie59227
Ashtabula57446
Geauga55844
Wayne54458
Ross4904
Darke40229
Huron4015
Ottawa39026
Madison38810
Sandusky38417
Hancock3793
Athens3591
Holmes3286
Lawrence2880
Auglaize2566
Union2541
Muskingum2391
Jefferson2342
Scioto2341
Seneca2223
Putnam20817
Knox2067
Washington20522
Preble2042
Shelby2004
Coshocton1946
Champaign1782
Crawford1745
Morrow1722
Hardin16912
Clinton1656
Highland1591
Logan1552
Ashland1493
Defiance1484
Wyandot1488
Fulton1471
Brown1382
Perry1363
Williams1353
Guernsey1187
Hocking1189
Henry1172
Fayette1150
Carroll1105
Monroe9318
Pike770
Jackson750
Van Wert721
Paulding700
Gallia651
Adams612
Meigs500
Vinton312
Morgan280
Harrison261
Noble160
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 68°
Angola
68° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 68°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 69°
Decatur
70° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 70°
Van Wert
70° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 70°
Isolated Showers Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events