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President Donald Trump on Saturday condemned "all forms of racism and violence," making an appeal for national unity on the anniversary of a nationalist march in Charlottesville that sparked violent clashes between elements of the political left and right.
As Washington, DC braces for a possibly tense "Unite the Right 2" rally on Sunday, the president struck a conciliatory tone that urged Americans to "come together as a nation." Last year, violence flared between counter-protesters at a march organized by a pro-nationalist group that left one woman dead.
Trump's controversial response to the violence in Charlottesville — in which he said "both sides" were to blame for the conflict — drew intense backlash, even from within his own party. After calling the alt-right protesters "fine people," the president was harshly criticized by South Carolina GOP Senator Tim Scott, who said his "moral authority was compromised. "
Since then, the president has become embroiled in several high-profile, polarizing debates over race relations. His response to the NFL's anthem protests, and his public fights with professional athletes, have been blasted for being racially insensitive.