Donald Trump Pays First Visit to NYC’s 9/11 Memorial

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump paid his first visit to the 9/11 memorial in Manhattan yesterday, in turn praising what he called the city’s “New York Values” while also taking time to take a few shots at his primary GOP rival, Ted Cruz, in the process.

According to The New York Times, Trump’s return to the memorial in the city he calls home was first scheduled to allow him to facilitate a round of questions and answers from the media as well.

Donald Trump
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump paid his first visit to Manhattan’s 9/11 memorial Saturday, drawing criticism from some voters regarding the timing of the visit in relation to the state’s upcoming primary election. [Image by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images]
Per reports, Trump’s private Memorial Museum tour — which also included his wife Melania — was led by museum president Joe Daniels, and lasted less than 30 minutes. The Republican frontrunner did not visit the outdoor portion of the memorial, despite it being his first ever visit, as the entire monument — engraved with the names of all 9/11 victims — was being pelted with heavy rainfall.

Trump also decided not to follow through with the scheduled round of media questions on the grounds of the memorial, out of respect for the terrible loss that was experienced there nearly 15 years prior.

A number of reporters, The NYT noted, were privately invited to join Trump for his visit to the memorial with the promise of answering questions after he took the tour. Those who attended, however, were kept in a van outside of the museum and never given the opportunity. Instead, Trump’s team issued a photo of the candidate touring the memorial for the first time, accompanied by a statement that the heart and dedication that it took to rebuild on the site of Ground Zero was “what ‘New York values’ are really all about.”

“That was classy, that he decided not to [hold his closed press conference with reporters at the memorial],” said former New York City mayor and Trump friend Rudolph Giuliani to The Times, who noted his firm belief that Trump would have been criticized regardless of what he did. According to Giuliani, he had no issues with Trump’s timing in making his first visit to the memorial just days before the state’s Republican primary election.

Rudolph Giuliani
Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, shown visiting the 9/11 memorial for himself, has stepped forward in defense of his friend Donald Trump. A number of critics question the Republican candidate’s timing in visiting this memorial for the first time just days prior to the New York State primary election. [Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]
The businessman turned politician also notably opened up his wallet during this first visit, agreeing to donate $100,000 to the nonprofit group that runs both the memorial as well as the September 11 Memorial Museum on the busy business intersection where the famed “Twin Towers” once stood.

The memorial, which has become a destination landmark for visitors to Manhattan, is the result of years of effort, primarily under the direction of former N.Y.C. mayor Michael Bloomberg, who secured donations for years and still sits as the memorial organization’s chair.

Unfortunately for Trump, not everyone saw his actions as so purely philanthropic.

Chief among those critics is at least one woman who lost a family member on the day of those tragic attacks.

“Of the tens of millions of people from all over the world who have come to the place where so many people died, and where so many heroes sacrificed their lives to save others, Mr. Trump may be the only one to bring along the press to chronicle his first visit,” said Debra Burlingame to The New York Times.

Burlingame, who lost her brother, an American Airlines pilot, continued “I leave it to the public to judge his timing and motives.”

“I think if you’re running in New York, you should go to show respect,” continued Giuliani, who lived out the full horror of the September 11 attacks in person while serving in his capacity as mayor. Giuliani also noted that the memorial is a difficult experience to see, saying “I could also see why up until now you might not do it.”

Giuliani also noted that he believes Trump’s heart was in the right place in his memorial visit, even if it did directly precede the New York State primary.

Regardless of his intentions, however, Trump’s statements during his first visit to the 9/11 memorial have been seen by some as at least a small attempt to gain further ground against his Republican primary opponent Ted Cruz. After all, it was Cruz who, The NYT noted, has attempted to portray Trump as too liberal for Republican voters.

Many believe that — as well as Trump’s “New York City values” comment regarding the memorial — to be a direct response to Cruz’s allegations prior to the Iowa caucuses that Trump represented those big-city values above all else.

And at a time when polling numbers show Trump leading the state, those values might be exactly what he needs to pull through a primary victory, regardless of his intentions in visiting the 9/11 memorial for the first time.

[Image by Justin Lane-Pool/Getty Images]

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