American and republican presidential front-runner, Donald J. Trump, has dismissed criticism that he’s fueling the violence at his campaign rallies, saying he’s “just the messenger” for Americans’ festering frustration and urged campaign supporters in Illinois to “give me two years” to turn around the country.
“We have protesters so mean. They are so bad. Our people started swinging back, and the next day we are the bad guys.” Said Trump.
Trump’s latest comments at the rally follow a weekend of campaign events marred by violent clashes between his supporters and suspect Bernie Sanders supporters. There is an increasing calls for Trump to acknowledge that his hot campaign rhetoric has caused at least some of the problems.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Saturday that Trump’s campaign rhetoric, including the argument that essentially all Muslims dislike America and his talk about “punching” campaign protesters, has incited the violence and is “creating a toxic environment.”
Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton said at a rally Saturday: “The ugly, divisive rhetoric we are hearing from Donald Trump and the encouragement of violence and aggression is wrong, and it’s dangerous. … That’s not leadership. That’s political arson.”
Trump also argued Sunday that his events draw crowds that far exceed those of his White House rivals — including 35,000 people at a recent rally in Alabama — so the repeated talk about violence is being exaggerated.
“Nobody’s ever been hurt,” he told Fox. “Some of these protesters are bad dudes. They swing and they punch.”
Trump said he doesn’t condone violence, including the case of the white male supporter who is accused of striking a black protester in the face during a recent rally in Fayetteville, N.C.
Trump also make stops Sunday in Ohio and Florida, ahead of voting Tuesday in those states and in Missouri, Illinois and North Carolina that could be make-or-break for candidates.
The Illinois rally was interrupted several times by protesters, which was followed by Trump unapologetically telling security to “get ‘em out.”
He also continued to argue that the protesters are hired and suggested that some of them are backed by the same people or groups that support Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont.
“Send them back to Bernie,” Trump shouted at the rally. “What happened in Chicago was a setup. … They are not protesters; They are disruptors.”
Trump also called up to the stage a rally attendee wearing a T-shirt that read: “I’m a legal alien.”
“I came here when I was 5 years old,” the man said. “I’m surprised to be up here. My parents did it by the book.”
Just two protesters were able to sneak into the ballroom where Trump was speaking – a man holding a Sanders for president campaign sign and a woman who faced the news media covering the event and tore a Trump sign in half.