Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump's onslaught of disparaging tweets calling Baltimore a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess" — and characterizing Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings as failing to fix it — extends Trump's streak of vilifying big American cities and adds a racial spin that scores points with parts of his base.

The big picture: Cities, particularly coastal ones, are Democratic strongholds that have been protesting Trump policies like immigration and health care since day one of his administration.

  • Attacking cities and their mostly Democratic leaders helps to drive a wedge between urban and rural America, a strategy that served Trump well in 2016. Earlier this month, Trump called out Los Angeles and San Francisco for homelessness and filth.
  • And Trump's advisors tell the Washington Post that the overall message — coming on the heels of his "go back" tweets aimed at 4 non-white congresswomen —resonates well with his political base, including white working-class voters he needs in 2020.

The backdrop: Trump called the district of Rep. Elijah Cummings a "very dangerous & filthy place" and a city "no human being would want to live" in Saturday tweets, which were quickly condemned as offensive and racist by city leaders and Democrats —including Baltimore native Nancy Pelosi.

  • City supporters and Trump detractors took to social media, with #WeAreBaltimore and #BaltimoreStrong trending on Twitter.
  • Victor Blackwell, CNN anchor and Baltimore native, gave an emotional on-air response to Trump: "He's insulted thousands of people, many different types of people. But when he tweets about infestation, it's about black and brown people."

The latest: The Baltimore Sun came out swinging in a scathing editorial Sunday reminding Trump that Baltimore "is part of the United States that he is supposedly governing" and that its "[b]etter to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one."

  • Trump fired back on Sunday, calling Cummings a racist and incompetent leader. He also turned his ire on Pelosi, calling her San Francisco district "unrecognizable."
  • “The Democrats always play the Race Card, when in fact they have done so little for our Nation’s great African American people,” Trump tweeted. “Now, lowest unemployment in U.S. history, and only getting better. Elijah Cummings has failed badly!"

The reality: Cummings' district, which includes a large portion of Baltimore, is about 55% black, per the Baltimore Sun. Violent crime is a persistent problem: the city has had more than 300 homicides for 4 straight years.

  • Cummings' district also includes well-off suburban areas and some rural parts. It's the second-wealthiest and second-most well-educated majority-black district in the country, 538's Nate Silver pointed out on Twitter.
  • Its median household income is about $60,000, and it is home to more college graduates than the country as a whole, per the Washington Post.

Between the lines: Distressed districts are held by both Republican and Democratic members of Congress. And racial, geographic and economic divides are far more nuanced than tweets and headlines convey.

  • "Because two things can be true at the same time: Our national economy is strong & prosperous; it's also severely divided," tweeted John Lettieri, CEO of the Economic Innovation Group.
  • Places where educated workers cluster are doing well. But even in a booming economy, millions of Americans live in communities that haven't yet recovered.
  • "Be careful when attempting to weaponize local economic conditions and party representation," Lettieri tweeted.

The irony: Trump has one of the most urban backgrounds of any U.S. president, growing up in New York City and making his fortune on Manhattan real estate.

The bottom line: The perpetually combative stance "places Trump in the strange position of frequently disparaging parts of his own country," writes New York's Jonathan Chait. "This is surely unique in American history."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Why made-for-TV moments matter during the pandemic

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Erin Schaff-Pool, Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.

Updated 8 hours ago - World

Over 3,000 detained in protests across Russia demanding Navalny's release

Russian police officers beat protestesters at a rally against of jailing of oppositon leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on Saturday. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Police in Russia on Saturday arrested more than 3,300 people as protesters nationwide demanded that opposition leader Alexey Navalny be released from jail.

Details: Demonstrations began in the eastern regions of Russia and spread west to more than 60 cities.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain and GOP governor

Combination images of Cindy McCain and Gov. Doug Ducey. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic for U.S.VETS/Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Arizona Republican Party members voted on Saturday to censure prominent GOP figures Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who've all faced clashes with former President Trump.

Why it matters: Although the resolution is symbolic, this move plus the re-election of the Trump-endorsed Kelli Ward as state GOP chair shows the strong hold the former president has on the party in Arizona, despite President Biden winning the state in the 2020 election.