Donald Trump isn’t known for his soothing rhetoric or ability to bring the country together in the wake of a tragedy. After the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia turned deadly, Trump infamously said there were “very fine people” among the ranks of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists who were out in force that day. And after a hurricane devastated Puerto Rico, Trump visited the island and tossed paper towels to the crowd.
On Wednesday, Trump hosted a listening session for survivors, family members, and victims of mass shootings and once again he needed help being compassionate.
In spite of being in a room of people who commended him for being a good leader, Trump’s team made sure to arm the chief executive with five talking points he could deploy during the meeting.
While most people don’t need to be instructed on how to respond with empathy after such an immense tragedy, Trump’s note card included the phrases, “What would you most want me to know about your experience?”; “Resources? Ideas?”; and “What can we do to help you feel safe?”
The final point was a reminder for Trump to tell the victims, “I hear you.”
Aaron Blake of The Washington Post argued the note cards showcased Trump’s “empathy deficit better than anything” else and throughout his White House tenure “it’s been clear that expressing that he feels others’ pain just isn’t his strength.”
Over on Twitter, many noted Trump’s inability to show the same compassion his predecessors have shown other victims of tragedy.
“You know who would have never needed that reminder?” one person wrote on Twitter, “Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.”