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Dallas Shooting: Donald Trump And Hillary Clinton Strike Different Tones

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary. We're going to take a moment now to talk about how this week's shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas may affect our politics. Hillary Clinton said she was heartbroken yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

HILLARY CLINTON: Rebuilding our communities where the police and citizens all see themselves as being on the same side will require contributions from all of us.

NEARY: Donald Trump released a video statement in which he called for unity.

DONALD TRUMP: The deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota also make clear how much more work we have to do to make every American feel that their safety is protected.

NEARY: NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro joins me now. Good morning. Good to have you with us.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Good morning, Lynn.

NEARY: You did given how unrestrained this political year has been, the reaction so far to what has happened this week has actually been remarkable for its restraint, hasn't it?

MONTANARO: It certainly has. I mean, this stands in contrast to the immediate reactions after the Orlando shooting and even Brexit. I mean, you remember they came out very quickly, going to their policy corners and their polarized, you know, issues that they go to immediately. And I think a lot of that is because the leaders here recognize that, you know, this is a major racial powder keg. It threatens to tear the nation apart in an election that has been - an election that has been about racial identity and at an inflection point in this country when the demography is changing so strongly. It's been such a petty campaign that it's hard to see it lasting, to be honest.

NEARY: Yeah. And there were - there was some remarkable tape from Newt Gingrich - remarkable comments from - I thought pretty remarkable - from Newt Gingrich. Let's hear some of that tape.

MONTANARO: Sure.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NEWT GINGRICH: If you are the normal white American, truth is you don't understand being black in America, and you instinctively underestimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk.

NEARY: Yeah. I mean, I wasn't expecting that kind of reaction from somebody like Newt Gingrich.

MONTANARO: No.

NEARY: And I'm wondering if this kind of thoughtfulness and the restraint that we were talking about - is that going to stick? Or - what can we expect?

MONTANARO: Well, look, I mean, Newt Gingrich is someone who's in the running for vice president with Donald Trump. It's so - it's interesting to see how similar Trump's statement was to Gingrich's. And it was interesting to see how similar Gingrich's statement was to Hillary Clinton, actually, 'cause Clinton, earlier in her statement, said that she's going to be talking to white people because she feels like white people need to understand the racial discrimination that African-Americans face and that it's very different.

NEARY: You know, and, of course, we have to remember that the shootings that ended the week - this is a week that began with Hillary Clinton breathing something of a sigh of relief as FBI director James Comey gave her email practices a public slap, but no indictment - no criminal indictment.

MONTANARO: Right. She faced no formal indictment, but the - and the biggest storm cloud, really, from her candidacy was removed. But it didn't come out - come without pain, honestly. I mean, you know, he called her extremely careless, and it plays into the narrative that she's dishonest, not trustworthy. But frankly, she would be the most disliked candidate in American history were it not for Donald Trump, and that's something that her campaign certainly recognizes.

NEARY: Of course, Donald Trump did say - did tweet yesterday - it said that on a day of national tragedy, Hillary Clinton is answering softball questions about her email lies. So he didn't - he didn't let that go without any pass at all, did he, Domenico?

MONTANARO: No. And I think that you're going to see him go back to some of that - calling her Crooked Hillary and all the rest. But again, the advantages the Democrats have going into an election certainly highlighted by Donald Trump's unfavorability ratings - near 70 percent.

NEARY: NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro. Domenico, thanks for being with us.

MONTANARO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.