The White House tried to present its message in support of racing fans. But Trump’s declaration bears little resemblance to the White House’s explanations for this. And his spokesman’s refusal to express an official position on burning the Confederate flag is just an indication of Trump’s continued attempts to use racist symbols as an appeal to some white voters as he tries to revive his re-election candidacy.
Kayleigh McEnany said Monday that the president is not addressing the verdict regarding the flag in his tweet.
“He didn’t give either opinion on it,” she said. “I just talked to him this morning.”
Earlier Monday, Trump tweeted, “Did @BubbaWallace apologize to all those great NASCAR drivers and officers who came to his aid, stood by his side, and were willing to sacrifice everything for him, just to reveal that the whole thing just another HOAX? That decision & flag led to the lowest ratings! ”
Pressed during a controversial 22-minute tweet briefing, McEnany claimed Trump was expressing support for NASCAR fans.
“The president’s intention was to say no. Most Americans are good, hard-working people. And we shouldn’t rush to judge the knee reaction before the facts are established,” McEnany said, not explaining – despite repeated questions – why Trump apologized to Wallace. .
“It was a network,” Wallace told CNN after the investigation. “Whether it was tied in 2019 or something else, it was a network. So it’s not aimed at me, but someone tied the bandage. That’s what I’m saying.”
In a response posted on his own Twitter on Monday, Wallace wrote a message aimed at “the next generation and the little ones who are following in my footsteps”.
“Always deal with the hatred that LOVE throws at you!” he wrote. “Love of hate every day. Love should come naturally because people REALLY hate.”
“Even when it is URGENT from POTUS,” he wrote. “Love wins.”
As the coronavirus ferment rages across the country, Trump has largely moved on, trying instead to focus on his “law and order” message through a series of incendiary speeches, tweets and statements defending racist monuments and digging in opposition to renaming a Confederate army base appointed Confederate leaders.
NASCAR said the presence of the Confederate flag “runs counter to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry.”
Trump’s ally and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina withdrew to Trump’s tweet during an interview with Fox News radio on Monday.
“They’re trying to play sports,” Graham said, referring to the decision to ban flags from NASCAR events. “And I’ve lived in South Carolina my whole life and if you’re in business, the Confederate flag is not a good way to grow your business.”
“What the president is doing is a broader sign that this rush to judge the facts before the facts are established is not acceptable. And we saw it with the Covington kids and we saw it with Jussie Smollett, and now we’ve seen it in the case before The FBI came to that conclusion, “she said.
“The president is just stressing that we need to let go of the facts before we rush into judgment,” she added.
Monday’s tweet builds on Trump’s war rhetoric of cultural weekends.
“As we meet here tonight, the danger that threatens every blessing our ancestors fought so hard for grows,” Trump said. “Our people are witnessing a relentless campaign to erase our history, deceive our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children.”
Some of the president’s political advisers are concerned that Trump is simultaneously distracted from the real health and economic crises the country is facing and alienate moderate voters whose views on race have passed to expand Confederate monuments as “history”.
But Trump insisted the issue was a winning one for him and refused to change direction.
Graham also told Fox News that he would encourage Trump to distinguish between protesters and violent robberies, saying “there are voices in the country pushing racial justice.”
CNN’s Steve Almasy, Manu Raju, Haley Byrd and Ali Main contributed to this report.
This story has been updated to reflect additional comments on Trump’s tweet.