EL PASO, Texas (CNN) – Some of President Donald Trump’s own aides conceded Thursday that his visits to two cities in mourning did not go as planned, as a new video revealed he bragged about crowd sizes while visiting patients at an El Paso hospital.
“That was some, that was some crowd,” Trump said, according to cell phone video from one attendee. “And we had twice the number outside. And then you had this crazy Beto. Beto had like 400 people in a parking lot, they said his crowd was wonderful.”
White House officials blocked reporters and their cameras from entering the two hospitals during his visits to Ohio and Texas this week, a move they said was out of respect for the patients’ privacy. But according to one person familiar with the President’s reaction, the President lashed out at his staff for keeping the cameras away from him, complaining that he wasn’t receiving enough credit. Aides had feared a moment like the one that is now going viral — where the President appears to focus on himself in front of those still recovering from a tragedy.
Trump associates the city of El Paso with his first political rally of 2019, where he made his case for a border wall and feuded with Beto O’Rourke, who would soon announce he was running for president and held a counterprotest in a park nearby. Trump’s campaign still owes the city of El Paso more than $500,000 in police and public safety fees from that visit.
While at least two top staffers publicly defended the President’s trip — with one longtime aide claiming he was treated like “a rock star” at the Dayton, Ohio, hospital — multiple staffers agreed behind the scenes that it wasn’t successful from the administration’s viewpoint. They conceded Trump spent too much time lashing out at local officials, who Trump criticized after they praised his interactions with patients but criticized his stance on guns.
Trump was also unhappy with the visit. He fumed about the coverage on the long flight back to Washington, one person said, though he remained positive in public.
“We had an amazing day,” Trump said in the corridor of an emergency coordination center in El Paso. “As you know, we left Ohio. And the love and the respect for the office of the presidency, it was — I wish you could have been in there to see it. I wish you could have been in there.”