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Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he hopes President Trump understands that a careless leader’s word choice risks encouraging racism and even violence.

“Words matter,” Bloomberg, a leading advocate of gun control, said in a CBS “Face the Nation” interview airing Sunday.

He was responding to a question from anchor Margaret Brennan, who asked about Democratic presidential candidates’ tying Trump’s rhetoric to last weekend’s mass shooting in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart. The gunman told police he was targeting Mexicans.

“When I was mayor of the largest city in America for 12 years, my words mattered. Papers every day repeated what I said and tried to put it in context, and tried to ascribe motives to everything I said. The public reads, watches, listens to that. And that changes their behavior,” Bloomberg said.

“People look to their leadership for guidance. And to say that it doesn’t have an effect is wrong. So what the president says is very important. And if he supports, or says nice things about, racists, it encourages racism. If he goes and says nice things about white supremacists, he encourages that kind of violence.”


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