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Charlottesville violence tests Trump’s presidential mettle

By James Oliphant

BEDMINSTER, N.J. (Reuters) – For President Donald Trump, this was the week when the real world began to intrude upon his presidency.

The violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, between white nationalists and counter-protesters confronted Trump with perhaps the first true domestic crisis of his young administration. And to some, even within his own Republican Party, he came up short.

It followed days of blustery threats toward North Korea that rattled some Americans and unnerved allies. Both are the kinds of white-knuckle challenges that define presidents – and which Trump largely has avoided during the first months of his tenure.

As images of rising tensions and a deadly car rampage in Charlottesville filled TV screens nationwide, the president was criticized first for waiting too long to address the violence and then, when he did so, failing to explicitly condemn the white-supremacist marchers who ignited the melee. [nL2N1KY033]

Marco Rubio, a Republican senator who was Trump’s rival for the presidential nomination, quickly suggested Trump’s initial response was inadequate.

On Twitter, Rubio wrote that it was, “Very important for the nation to hear [Trump] describe events in Charlottesville for what they are: a terror attack by #whitesupremacists.”

While Trump has had to deal with the pressures of the federal probe into Russian meddling in last year’s election, disarray in his White House, and conflicts with Congress over his stalled agenda, there are have been few external crises that have tested his presidential mettle.

By contrast, his predecessor, Barack Obama, inherited a severe economic downturn during his first year in office, and would go on to face, among other tests, a catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Middle East upheaval, terror attacks in Boston, Orlando, and elsewhere, and civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland.

Trump has spent this week at his tony golf club in New Jersey, attempting to show the…

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