He offered his thoughts and prayers.
She said black lives matter.
He referred to them as “two motorists.”
She repeatedly said their names.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have reacted to the uniquely American bloodshed that defined this week—just before the Republican and Democratic conventions where both candidates are expected to become their respective party’s nominees—in their own unique ways.
The general election is getting underway amidst racially charged violence that technology has enabled to be documented and shared at unprecedented levels of virality, giving Trump and Clinton, tragically, a lot of opportunities to practice how they would handle a national crisis as president of the United States.
But this week, they arrived for the first time at what, at times, felt like similar strategies, with Trump taming his characteristic bombast—which he tends to apply during domestic or international terror attacks—to meet Clinton somewhere in the middle.
First, there were the killings—by police—of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana.
Trump was silent, while Clinton expressed heartbreak and outrage.
“America woke up to yet another tragedy of a life cut down too soon,” she said, on Twitter. “Black lives matter. #PhilandoCastile—H.”
In another tweet, she wrote, “Alton Sterling Matters. Philando Castile Matters. Black Lives Matter. Something is profoundly wrong when so many Americans have reason to believe that our country doesn’t consider them as precious as others because of the color of their skin.”
Later, she added, “Too many African American families are mourning. Too many young black men and women have been taken from us.”
Both Trump and Clinton canceled their scheduled events, his in Miami with Chris Christie, hers in Pittsburgh with Joe Biden.
“Prayers and condolences to all of the families who are thoroughly devastated by the horrors we are all watching take place in our country,” Trump said, on Twitter.
On Facebook, he elaborated, calling the shooting of 12 officers (five fatally) “a coordinated, premeditated assault on the men and women who keep us safe. We must restore law and order. We must restore the confidence of our people to be safe and secure in their homes and on the street.”
For the first time, Trump referenced Castile and Sterling—but not by name.
“The senseless, tragic deaths of two people in Louisiana and Minnesota reminds us how much more needs to be done,” he said. “This morning I offer my thoughts and prayers for all of the victims’ families, and we pray for our brave police officers and first responders who risk their lives to protect us every single day.”
He acknowledged the country is “divided” and noted that “racial tensions” are worsening.
Clinton first took to Twitter. “I mourn for the officers shot while doing their sacred duty to protect peaceful protesters, for their families & all who serve with them.—H,” she said.
An aide told reporters Clinton called both the mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, and the county judge, Clay Jenkins. A spokesperson for Trump did not respond when asked, by The Daily Beast, if he’d made similar phone calls.
Clinton then appeared on CNN, where she went much further than Trump in her assessment of the country’s racial divide.
“I will call for white people like myself to put ourselves in the shoes of those African American families who fear every time their children go somewhere,” she said. “I’m going to be talking to white people.”
Clinton decried when she said is, “systemic racism” and “implicit bias.”
She waffled when asked, by Wolf Blitzer, if she agreed with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton’s assessment that, were Castile white, he wouldn’t have been shot at. “I don’t think we know the answer to that, Wolf,” she said. “We have to find where the evidence leads us, but the facts are clear…too many African Americans are killed in encounters with police.”
Clinton is no stranger to this kind of talk.
In April, she dined with the mothers of black victims of gun violence and police brutality—Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, all of whom were unarmed and died, with the exception of Martin, at the hands of police officers—and listened to their stories. They have since appeared in her ads and campaigned with her.
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Trump.
Beginning with his June 2015 announcement, when he accused undocumented Mexican immigrants of being “rapists” and “criminals,” Trump’s performance as a candidate has been marked by his racial insensitivity. He is supported by anti-semites, white nationalists and even David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. His concession that the racial divide in this country is troublesome and needs fixing, then, was a departure of sorts and, viewed generously, a sign he may be maturing (outwardly, at least) as his campaign becomes more professional.
As of press time Friday, Trump offered no additional comment about the week of racially motivated violence in America.
On Twitter, he said only, “Isn’t it sad that on a day of national tragedy Hillary Clinton is answering softball questions about her email lies on @CNN?”