President Donald Trump on Sunday morning retweeted a video of senior citizens in Florida participating in a golf-cart parade where one supporter yelled “white power” twice while pumping his fist in the air.
The scene that erupted in The Villages, a retirement community in Florida, took place amid continuing unrest across the country over police brutality and racism.
“Thank you to the great people of The Villages,” Trump tweeted. “The Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats will Fall in the Fall. Corrupt Joe is shot. See you soon!!!“
The president deleted the tweet a few hours later.
The pro-Trump parader twice exclaimed “white power” while holding his fist up; he was sitting next to another supporter chanting “Trump.” Another person, who appeared to be an anti-Trump protester, pointed toward him and responded: “There you go, white power.”
The golf-cart motorcade was met by anti-Trump seniors standing alongside the same road, who held counter-protester signs that read “Trump bigot and racist” and “Donald Trump white trash” and shouted profanities toward the supporters. One among the senior crowd called a supporter a “Nazi racist pig.”
Trump has often raised eyebrows over his posts and has previously retweetedwhite supremacists.
His post on Sunday drew attention from top public officials including Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who called the video “indefensible.”
“There’s no question, he should not have retweeted it. He should just take it down,” Scott said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Scott, the only black Republican in the upper chamber, recently offered police reform legislation thatwas blockedby Senate Democrats, who argued the bill did not go far enough to curb police misconduct. The Housepassed its own sweeping billaimed at law enforcement reform Thursday evening.
CNN host Jake Tapper also asked Human and Health Services Secretary Alex Azar about the president’s post, after playing a clip of the video.
“I’ve not seen that video or that tweet. But obviously, neither the president, his administration, nor I, would do anything to be supportive of white supremacy or anything that would support discrimination of any kind.”
Tapper asked the Trump administration’s health secretary if tweeting the video was a mistake or not, but Azar declined to comment further, repeating that he had not seen the video.
“Well, we just played it for you, but I’ll move on,” Tapper responded.
Trump has frequently denied that the language he uses or shares is racist. He has recently received backlash over the slur “kung flu,” which he has used to describe the coronavirus.
After the Florida tweet was deleted, White House spokesman Judd Deere commented that Trump did not hear the supporter’s shouts of “white power,” which occurs early in the video.
“President Trump is a big fan of The Villages. He did not hear the one statement made on the video. What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters,” Deere said in a statement.
The sprawling retirement community, located near Orlando, is heavily white and conservative — and therefore crucial to Trump’s reelection in Florida, a must-win state for him where the Real Clear Politics polling averages currently show him trailing Democrat Joe Biden by 7 percentage points.
The Villages is in three Florida counties, but much of it is in relatively small Sumter County, where voters turn out at disproportionately higher rates than the rest of the state and disproportionately vote for Republicans.
In 2016, Florida’s Sumter County turnout rate was about 10 points higher than the state’s turnout rate. Trump won nearly 69 percent of the vote in 2016, a net 30,092 votes that accounted for almost 27 percent of his overall statewide victory margin of 112,911 statewide in Florida, which he carried by just 1.19 percentage points. Sumter County is 85 percent non-Hispanic white; according to census figures, whites are 53 percent of Florida’s overall population.