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Charlottesville violence tests Trump's presidential mettle

From Reuters - August 12, 2017

BEDMINSTER, N.J. (Reuters) - For President Donald Trump, this was the week when the real world began to intrude upon his presidency.

The violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, between white nationalists and counter-protesters confronted Trump with perhaps the first true domestic crisis of his young administration. And to some, even within his own Republican Party, he came up short.

It followed days of blustery threats toward North Korea that rattled some Americans and unnerved allies. Both are the kinds of white-knuckle challenges that define presidents - and which Trump largely has avoided during the first months of his tenure.

As images of rising tensions and a deadly car rampage in Charlottesville filled TV screens nationwide, the president was criticized first for waiting too long to address the violence and then, when he did so, failing to explicitly condemn the white-supremacist marchers who ignited the melee. [nL2N1KY033]

Marco Rubio, a Republican senator who was Trump's rival for the presidential nomination, quickly suggested Trump's initial response was inadequate.

On Twitter, Rubio wrote that it was, "Very important for the nation to hear [Trump] describe events in Charlottesville for what they are: a terror attack by #whitesupremacists.

While Trump has had to deal with the pressures of the federal probe into Russian meddling in last years election, disarray in his White House, and conflicts with Congress over his stalled agenda, there are have been few external crises that have tested his presidential mettle.

By contrast, his predecessor, Barack Obama, inherited a severe economic downturn during his first year in office, and would go on to face, among other tests, a catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Middle East upheaval, terror attacks in Boston, Orlando, and elsewhere, and civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland.

Trump has spent this week at his tony golf club in New Jersey, attempting to show the American public that he is indeed working and not vacationing. He held one event after the other, while answering media questions with an approachability he hasnt shown for months.

Yet, when news of the situation in Charlottesville first started filtering out on Friday, Trump was silent. He first addressed the matterthrough a tweeton Saturday afternoon, after a planned white-supremacist rally had been dispersed, fights had broken out, and a state of emergency declared.

By the time Trump finally appeared before reporters at a staged bill-signing event at his club, footage of a car speeding up and slamming into a crowd of protesters had swamped social media and cable networks, raising the specter of domestic terrorism. At least one woman in the car's path died and several people suffered critical injuries.

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