Cody Keenan, a former speechwriter for Barack Obama, said the tweet was part of Trump’s re-election strategy.
“How ‘bout we just skip past the kabuki where White House staff emails reporters anonymously to say they had nothing to do with it, every [Republican] senator pretends they haven’t seen it, and just accept that they’re all part of the Trump 2020 white power Covid rally ‘til the end,” Keenan tweeted.
Trump sent the tweet as he faces a difficult re-election bid, which in part involves a struggle to shore up support among his base of white and evangelical Christian voters. Polls indicate that a majority of that demographic has supported protests over the killing last month of George Floyd, an African American man, by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Floyd protests have launched what could be a moment of reckoning for racial justice, on issues ranging from unaccountable police killings to Confederate monuments to criminal justice reforms to the legacy of slavery to reparations.
Yet Trump has leaned into his opposition to the protests, threatening to deploy the US military in American cities, promising stiff penalties for defacing statues, tweeting “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” – a phrase famously used in the 1960s by a Miami police chief long accused of bigotry – and declaring himself the president of “law and order”.