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President Trump interrupted a signing ceremony for veterans to publicly denounce the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia saying the U.S. government is “ready, willing and able” to step in.
USA TODAY

President Trump publicly denounced a deadly eruption of violence at a Virginia rally of white nationalists Saturday, declaring that the “hatred and division must stop.”

Trump, interrupting a signing ceremony for legislation benefiting veterans at his New Jersey golf club, called the street clashes, ending with a car plowing through a group of counter-protesters, “very, very sad.”

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of violence and bigotry,” Trump said, calling for a “swift restoration of law and order.”

But white nationalist leader David Duke quickly seized on Trump’s comments, calling on the president to “to take a good look in the mirror (and) remember it was white Americans who put you in the presidency.”

Duke’s remarks were a reminder of the challenge Trump faces when addressing issues of race, as members of the alt-right often rallied to the side of Trump’s contentious campaign.

Although he offered a condemnation, Trump did not single out the hate-fueled white nationalist movement. Rather, he suggested that “many sides” were responsible for Saturday’s unrest.

He did not elaborate, other than to to say that such conflict “has been going on for a long time in our country.” 

“Above all else, we must remember this truth,” Trump said. “No matter color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a one-time Trump rival, appeared to rally to the president’s aid, tweeting that it was “very important for the nation to hear…