While it can't be easy for a president to travel to communities still reeling from mass shootings, there's a template of sorts for a leader to follow. It's not complicated: a president is expected to show up, show support, offer condolences, make federal resources available, and reassure those still reeling that things will, in time, get better.
Yesterday, this proved to be too difficult for Donald Trump.
It was intended to be a day for President Donald Trump to pay his respects to the victims of two deadly mass shootings, thank first responders and serve as consoler-in-chief.
But before he even left the White House on Wednesday for El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, the president used his bully pulpit to settle political scores and lash out against slights.
The trouble began around midnight, with a presidential tweet attacking presidential hopeful Beto O'Rouke, El Paso's former congressman. It continued nine hours later, during a brief Q&A with reporters, in which Trump criticized four Democratic presidential candidates and Nan Whaley, the Democratic mayor of Dayton. Another tweet soon followed, attacking Joe Biden.
After a hospital visit in Dayton, Trump lashed out at Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Whaley, badly mischaracterizing what the Ohio Democrats had said during a press conference.
In El Paso, Trump boasted to reporters about the people he'd met and their "respect for the office of the presidency" -- as if the important thing about the day was him and his feelings.
This was followed by more attack tweets, targeting Fox News' Shep Smith, Joaquin Castro, and Julian Castro.
It was against this background that the White House released a campaign-style video of Trump during his day trip, which was soon followed by another campaign-style video. The point of both clips seemed to be to convey to the public that the president was well received during his local hospital visits. (He also promoted a series of hagiographic photographs, each of which featured him and people smiling around him. The press was told the hospital visit was "not a photo-op." Reality suggests otherwise.)
It was the latest in a series of presidential leadership tests. It was also Donald Trump's latest failure.