President Trump is flanked by Ben Carson, his nominee to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump as he delivers remarks after visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington on Feb. 21, 2017. Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

Trump denounces anti-Semitic attacks as 'horrible'

WASHINGTON (USA Today) Touring a new museum devoted to African-American history, President Trump said Tuesday (Feb. 21) he will do what he can to improve race relations and also denounced a series of recent threats and vandalism aimed at Jews.

“The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil," Trump said after touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

In an earlier interview on MSNBC, Trump said that "Anti-Semitism is horrible, and it's going (to) stop and it has to stop."

Trump had been criticized for passing up previous chances to denounce a spate of recent anti-Semitic incidents that range from desecration of a Jewish cemetery to threats against Jewish community centers. Some of the critics noted that Trump's presidential campaign last year seemed to attract an unusually high number of anti-Semites and white nationalists.

His critics included 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton, who tweeted: "JCC threats, cemetery desecration & online attacks are so troubling & they need to be stopped. Everyone must speak out, starting w/ @POTUS."

"Today and every day of my presidency," Trump said in his public remarks, "I pledge to do everything I can to continue that promise of freedom for African-Americans and for every American. So important, nothing more important."

Critics are still mocking Trump for a Feb. 1 White House event marking African-American history month in which the president seemed to suggest that 19th-century writer and abolitionist Frederick Douglass was still alive.

"Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice,” Trump said.