PITTSBURGH – Just hours after the fatal shooting attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, which led to the deaths of at least 11 people, President Trump attended a political campaign rally in Illinois. Trump said that he felt “obligated” to hold the event, despite the tragedy in Pittsburgh. He also claimed that after the 9/11 attacks, the New York Stock Exchange opened “the next day”, a claim which is false: the stock exchange returned to full operation only six days after the attacks.
While Trump was holding his campaign rally, the official Republican Party Twitter account posted a tweet, which included a video from Trump's rally, that said: “Let’s Keep Winning Together!”.
The timing of the tweet – hours after the shooting, while the Pittsburgh Jewish community was still in shock and grieving - drew widespread criticism on the social network.
George Little, a former chief spokesperson for the CIA and the Department of Defense, wrote: “A synagogue is attacked today, people are killed, and the Republican National Committee decides to go full 'we’re winning.' Really?”. Columnist David Weissman wrote – “That's all you care about and that is pitiful, this is why I left your party.”
Stuart Stevens, a veteran Republican political strategist, tweeted: "I've help elect 30-something Republican Senators and governors, five presidential campaigns and seeing the RNC tweeting about 'winning' hours after a massacre of Jews in America makes me sick. What is worth this?
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Earlier Saturday, Trump suggested that the attack could have been halted if an armed guard had been present. Before the number of deaths and specifics of the synagogue's security were known, Trump said gun control "has little to do with it" but "if they had protection inside, the results would have been far better."
"This is a case where, if they had an armed guard inside, they might have been able to stop him immediately," Trump said. "Maybe there would have been nobody killed, except for him, frankly. So it's a very, very - a very difficult situation."