Two Democrat candidates call Trump 'white supremacist'
Claims come after US president visits scenes of mass shootings
Two Democratic presidential candidates - Elizabeth Warren and Beto O'Rourke - have claimed that they consider President Donald Trump to be a white supremacist, an extraordinary charge against a sitting president.
Both White House hopefuls shared their comments on a day when Mr Trump visited two cities mourning mass shootings, including El Paso, where the gunman who killed 22 people appeared to have written an essay echoing Mr Trump's disparaging language about immigration.
The 'New York Times' reported that Ms Warren, asked in a brief interview if she believes Mr Trump is a white supremacist, replied "Yes" without hesitation.
"He has given aid and comfort to white supremacists," Ms Warren said during a campaign stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa. "He's done the wink and a nod. He has talked about white supremacists as fine people. He's done everything he can to stir up racial conflict and hatred in this country."
Mr O'Rourke was asked during an interview on MSNBC if he considers Mr Trump to be a white supremacist.
"He is," Mr O'Rourke replied. "He's also made that very clear. He's dehumanised or sought to dehumanise those who do not look like or pray like the majority here in this country. He's been clear who he wants to keep out with walls and cages and militarisation and torture and cruelty."
While other candidates have accused Mr Trump of being a racist and sowing racial discord, the comments by Ms Warren and Mr O'Rourke go further. In remarks in Iowa, for instance, former vice-president Joe Biden accused Mr Trump of having "fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation" but stopped short of calling Mr Trump a white supremacist.
Mr Trump, in an address from the White House, urged the nation to condemn white supremacy, and on Wednesday, as he departed on visits to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, he said he does not like hate, "whether it's white supremacy, whether it's any other kind of supremacy".
Mr Trump has also repeatedly called himself "the least racist person in the world".
Since taking office, he has generated numerous controversies related to race.
Among the more recent was his call for four liberal minority congresswomen to "go back" to the "totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came". Only one of the freshman lawmakers targeted by Mr Trump, Ilhan Omar, was born outside the United States. She became a US citizen in 2000.
Mr Trump also recently trained his ire on Elijah Cummings, an African American lawmaker whose majority-black district includes part of Baltimore, which Mr Trump described as a "rodent-infested mess" where "no human being would want to live".
For most of the day, the Republican president was kept out of view of the reporters travelling with him, but the White House said the president and his wife Melania met hospital staff and first responders and spent time with wounded survivors and their families.
Mr Trump told them he was "with them", said press secretary Stephanie Grisham.
"Everybody received him very warmly. Everybody was very, very excited to see him."
But outside Dayton's Miami Valley Hospital, at least 200 protesters gathered, blaming his incendiary rhetoric for inflaming political and racial tensions in the country and demanding action on gun control. Emotions are still raw in both cities in the aftermath of the weekend shootings. Critics claim Mr Trump's own words have contributed to a combustible climate that has spawned death and other violence.
Mr Trump's motorcade passed El Paso protesters holding "Racist Go Home" signs, and he spent part of his flight between Ohio and Texas airing his grievances on Twitter, berating Democratic legislators, Mr O'Rourke and the press.
Mr Trump and the White House have forcefully disputed the idea that he bears some responsibility for the nation's divisions, and he continued to do so on Wednesday.
"My critics are political people," he said as he left the White House, noting the apparent political leanings of the gunman in the Dayton killings.
He also defended his rhetoric on issues including immigration, claiming instead that he "brings people together". (© Washington Post)