While three of the last four presidents were at the 20th anniversary ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City on Saturday, former President Donald Trump decided to spend the day with New York’s heroes, instead.
According to WNBC-TV, Trump visited a police precinct and a fire station close to Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan.
The former president praised the men and women of the 17th Precinct and a nearby Manhattan fire station as “incredible people,” The Hill reported.
“What an incredible job you do,” he said at the precinct. “I grew up with you, and you are New York’s finest.”
Trump also thanked New York City’s Police Benevolent Association, its largest police union, for its endorsement of him in the 2020 presidential election.
“First time they’ve ever endorsed a candidate for president,” Trump said. “And it’s a great honor.”
“Having that endorsement meant more to me than anything, so I really appreciate it.”
During his visit, he made sure to note his support for first responders.
“We love the blue,” he said. “I’ll say it loud. You know, you’re not supposed to say it, but we love the blue.”
BREAKING: President Trump just made a surprise visit to the NYPD and FDNY on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11
“We’re not supposed to say it, but I’ll say it. We love the Blue.” pic.twitter.com/1aSAvkEpZe
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) September 11, 2021
Trump took pictures with the officers and firemen on duty.
— Dan Scavino🇺🇸🦅 (@DanScavino) September 11, 2021
Video shows firefighters breaking out in applause as Trump made his entrance:
Trump also criticized President Joe Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, transitioning into the situation in New York City under Mayor Bill de Blasio: “If you had the proper leadership, you could straighten out this city in one week,” he said.
Former President Donald Trump to NYPD: "If you had the proper leadership, you could straighten out this city in one week." pic.twitter.com/OnYYjDuQsX
— The Hill (@thehill) September 11, 2021
Then, of course, there was talk about whether or not he’d run for president in 2024.
“That’s a tough question,” he said, after being asked about it by an officer. “Actually, for me, it’s an easy question.”
Former US President Donald Trump is asked by an NYPD officer whether he might consider running for office again.
"We're not supposed to be talking about it yet… But I think you're going to be happy," he replies.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) September 11, 2021
“I mean, I know what I’m going to do, but we’re not supposed to be talking about it yet, from the standpoint of campaign finance laws, which frankly are ridiculous.
“But I think you’re going to be happy,” Trump said.
Trump’s 9/11 commemoration was markedly different from than that of other presidents, both past and present. According to WCBS-TV, President Biden and first lady Jill Biden attended the ceremony at the 9/11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan. The Clintons and Obamas were there, too.
Former President George W. Bush, meanwhile, was in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at a ceremony for those who died aboard United Flight 93, where Biden also visited.
How the media covered Trump’s activities spoke volumes. At The New York Times, the headline focused on Trump’s absence from the 9/11 Memorial ceremony, implying the former president had other things to do with his time than commemorate a day that changed the country.
“Where’s Trump on 9/11? Not at ground zero,” the Times reported snidely.
At the conservative New York Post, the take was considerably different:
“Trump make surprise visit to New York police and firefighters on 9/11,” the Post reported.
The Post had the more honest interpretation. Trump had the “option” of attending the 9/11 Memorial ceremony, his spokeswoman told the Times.
Instead, he chose to make the day about the first responders who experienced unfathomable loss 20 years ago.