In Arizona, Donald Trump levels an unscripted tirade at the media

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President Donald Trump encourages chants during a rally at the Phoenix Convention Center on Tuesday. Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Things got plenty strange in Arizona last night. From the Associated Press:

President Donald Trump opened his political rally in Phoenix with calls for unity and an assertion that “our movement is about love.” Then he erupted in anger.

He blamed the media for the widespread condemnation of his response to violence at a Charlottesville, Virginia, protest organized by white supremacists. And he shouted that he had “openly called for healing, unity and love” in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy and had simply been misrepresented in news coverage.

He read from his three responses to the racially charged violence — getting more animated with each one. He withdrew from his suit pocket the written statement he’d read the day a woman was killed by a man who’d plowed a car through counter-protesters, but he skipped over the trouble-causing part that he’d freelanced at the time — his observation that “many sides” were to blame.

Vice President Mike Pence was there for the 75-minute speech, as was Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr., and evangelist Franklin Graham. But neither of Arizona’s two U.S. senators, nor its governor, were in the audience. Again, from the Associated Press:

[Trump] went on to skewer both of Arizona’s Republican senators, insisting that his coy refusal to mention their names showed a “very presidential” restraint. He said his aides had begged him, “Please, please Mr. President, don’t mention any names. So I won’t.” Yet he’d clearly described Sen. John McCain as the reason Congress didn’t repeal and replace the much-maligned Affordable Care Act, and he labeled Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake as “weak” on borders and crime.

A demonstrator picks up a canister to throw it back toward police after a rally by President Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center on Tuesday. David McNew/Getty Images

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Want to know what U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake made of President Donald Trump’s appearance last night? He’ll be on GPB’s “Political Rewind” (88.5FM in Atlanta) at 2 p.m. this afternoon with host Bill Nigut and myself, to discuss his new book.

To read the rest of the Morning Jolt, click here.


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