MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL, S.D. (AP) — President Donald Trump had the stage at the foot of Mount Rushmore and on the eve of Independence Day.

And he used a speech at the South Dakota landmark on Friday night to dig further into America’s divisions. Trump accused protesters who have pushed for racial justice of engaging in a “merciless campaign to wipe out our history.”

He zeroed in on the desecration by some demonstrators of monuments and statues that honor those who have benefited from slavery, including some past presidents.

His comments four months from Election Day amounted to a direct appeal to the political base, including many disaffected white votes, that carried him to the White House in 2016.

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