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Marty Walsh on K&C: I 'hope' Donald Trump isn't racist, but he's 'pandering' to extremist groups

Alex Reimer
August 16, 2017 - 10:48 am

Mayor Marty Walsh says he thinks President Donald Trump is dividing the country instead of uniting it after the protests and white supremacist attack in Charlottesville last weekend.

In an interview Wednesday with Kirk & Callahan for the Jimmy Fund Radiothon, Walsh condemned Trump’s response to the violent incident. 

“I don’t think he’s pandering to the Klan. But I think in his comments over the last three days he’s pandering to the extreme right, there’s no question about it,” the Mayor explained. “Because he came out the first day –– and if you follow the script there’s no second day of conversation. But he came off the script a little bit and threw all groups in there. The next day he came out and condemned neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and if he stuck to that, he would’ve been fine. Then on the third day, yesterday, he came out and kind of blew it all up. You just can’t (do that). You’re the President of the United States of America, you have to stay focused on your message.

In Trump’s initial remarks Saturday, he attributed the violence in Charlottesville to “many sides.” Far-right groups, including white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Confederate sympathizers, gathered to protest the removal of Confederate general Robert E. Lee’s statue. They were met by counter-protesters, including a 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car crashed into demonstrators. 

Trump issued a more forceful condemnation Monday, specifically referencing neo-Nazis and other groups. But he doubled-down on his orginial statement Tuesday, once again blaming “both sides” in a fiery press conference at Trump Tower.

The President went on to say there were some “very fine people” who were “quietly” protesting the removal of the confederate monument. 

Walsh equivocated when asked whether he thinks Trump is racist, but said the President still acts like he’s on the campaign trail. 

“I hope he isn’t (racist),” Walsh said. “I think in some way, his words play to certain groups of populations of Americans. My feeling on Trump is that, he’s still in campaign mode to some degree, trying to make sure he solidifies his base. He has a different base than I would have running for president. I think his base is expecting a lot of out of him, just like anybody’s base.”

Earlier this week, Walsh held a press conference about a Free Speech Rally that’s slated to be held at the Boston Common on Saturday. Some of the scheduled speakers for the event also attended the rallies in Charlottesville, though many of them, including far-right provocateur Gavin McInnes, have canceled their plans to come to Boston. 

At the presser, Walsh said hate groups “weren’t welcome” in Boston. He stuck by his comments on K&C, saying he trusts the Boston Police Department to keep the event safe. The BPD is meeting with all groups who plan to rally or protest Saturday.

“There are people in the free speech side who actually believe in what they say and don’t start out with hate. Meaning, they believe in some of the things they’re talking about, and I don’t think they want to get there by violent nature,” Walsh said. "This group that’s coming to Boston on Saturday, they have been in Boston before. They were on the Common, they did a demonstration. There were no problems. The police were there monitoring it. It didn’t turn into a riot like it did down in Virginia.”

In order to ensure safety, rally attendees won’t be allowed to bring in backpacks, sticks or other paraphernalia. Opposing groups will be separated by a barricade as well. 

“We have to watch on both sides that we don’t have problems out of both sides,” Walsh stated.

Before leaving, the Mayor pledged a $5,000 donation to the Jimmy Fund on behalf of his foundation. Walsh attended the Jimmy Fund clinic when he was diagnosed with cancer as a seven-year-old. Click here to donate.

K&C - Mayor Marty Walsh 8-16-17

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