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Sen. Blunt: Attacks on the press are 'not my point of view'

The Missouri Republican says attacks on the media are "not the way I would approach this."

WASHINGTON — Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., distanced himself from President Donald Trump's repeated broadsides against the press Sunday, hours after the president accused the media of causing "war."

"It's not my point of view. I see the media, the press every day in the Capitol walking through to my office, to the floor, lots of questions, generally really good questions," Blunt said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"It's not the way I would approach this."

Trump and his administration have accelerated their attacks on the press in recent weeks amid a flurry of headlines enveloping the White House.

Included in that mix is: the ongoing trial of Paul Manafort, the president's former campaign manager, for financial crimes; Trump's calls for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to "stop" the special counsel's probe of Russian election interference; and the criticism that his administration is sending conflicting signals over its posture toward the threat to future elections.

After supporters shouted down CNN's Jim Acosta during a Tuesday campaign rally in Tampa, Florida, Trump retweeted a video of the scene. One day after that rally, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders refused to rebuke Trump's designation of the media as the "enemy of the American people" during a heated altercation with Acosta.

The president once again harangued the "fake news media" during a Saturday rally in Ohio, and followed up with a Sunday morning tweet arguing that reporters "purposefully cause great division & distrust."

While Blunt outlined a different view of the press than the one held by his party's standard-bearer, the senator argued that the "middle of the road news that people my age grew up with is no longer the news."

He pointed to the "in-depth psychology" discussions on cable news dissecting the president, adding that there are news segments "every day" that are either "objectionable" or that turn out "not to be true." That's why, he said, the attacks on the press resonate with many Trump supporters.

"I've not been to one of these rallies, but I've watched them, and that seems to be something that a lot of Americans identify with," Blunt said. "I think all of us who try to communicate need to realize there's some real challenge out there."

Blunt also disagreed with Trump's characterization of Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who has emerged as one of the most vocal Trump critics in Congress. Trump repeated his criticism of Waters during a Saturday rally in Ohio, labeling her a 'seriously low-IQ person."

"There are a lot of things, for instance, you could say about Maxine Waters. But to indicate she's not a bright person is not one of them," Blunt said. "I embrace her as a person who has given a lot of time to public service and has a different viewpoint that I do."

Trump has faced some criticism about his characterizations of black public figures, most recently sparked by his weekend comments aimed at basketball star LeBron James.

Pete Wehner, a veteran of past Republican administrations, argued this weekend on Twitter that Trump's criticisms amount to "racist appeals" that are coming to define his party.

Blunt disagreed with that perspective, noting that Trump ripped into his GOP primary opponents during the presidential campaign.

"The GOP is not anti-black," Blunt said. But, he added, "you've got to be more careful in our society about what you say about people that are different than you."