DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - President Donald Trump is in Dallas today for two reasons – to raise money and talk about policing and race relations with community leaders inside a North Dallas church.
Held at the Gateway Church, his roundtable discussion is expected to last up to two hours.
"We have the greatest, potential -- the greatest country in the world. But we get off track... and we start thinking about things that don't matter, or don't matter much and the important things we don't even discuss, but we are here to discuss some very important things today," said President Trump as he opened discussions.
Attorney General William Barr also spoke, addressing the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
"While we saw something bad, it has perhaps galvanized the country. We cannot let that incident obscure the fact that the real danger to our community comes from violent crime and lawlessness than it does the police," he said.
The president talked about recent demands to defund the police.
"They want to get rid of the police forces, they want to get rid of it, and that's what they do and that's where they go and you know that because at the top position there won't be much leadership left. Instead we have to go the opposite way."
The White House said the president will announce a plan for "holistic revitalization and recovery" at the roundtable with "faith leaders, law enforcement officials, and small business owners to discuss solutions to historic economic, health, and justice disparities in American communities."
Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also participated.
A spokesman for Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said the Mayor was invited to participate, but politely declined because of prior commitments.
Senior administration officials said the president's policies will seek to modernize policing for the 21st century and build relations between communities and police departments.
President Trump has repeatedly advocated law and order and has criticized Democrats calling for defunding police departments.
He reminded at the start of the round table, "Law and order -- we gotta have it."
Presumptive Democratic nominee for President, Joe Biden has said he opposed defunding the police. House Democrats have proposed legislation to reduce qualified immunity for police officers, create a national database for police misconduct and an end of police officers' ability to use choke holds.
The Dallas Police Department ended the use of choke holds in 2004.
Senate Republicans are working on legislation that would end choke holds, no-knock warrants and offer an independent process to investigate police misconduct.
Texas Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson and U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth plan to criticize the President's response to the pandemic and the high unemployment numbers among minorities. Before the pandemic, the President often cited record low unemployment for African-Americans and Latinos.
The President's visit to North Texas comes as some polls in Texas show him leading Biden by as little as one point.
Texas GOP Chair James Dickey said last week a poll showing the President ahead by one was inaccurate and that his message to Republicans remains the same: not to become complacent and take nothing for granted.
After the President's round table discussion, he will headline a joint fundraiser with the RNC at a private home where 25 couples will pay $580,600 to attend. Those who attend will be tested for COVID-19 before they can enter.
His top-dollar fundraising dinner could bring in as much as $10 million.
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