WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump blamed his supporters Thursday for a chant of "send her back" that erupted at his North Carolina rally, even though he did nothing to stop the taunts against a black lawmaker that echoed his own attacks.
"I disagree with it,” the president told reporters a day later in the Oval Office. "I wasn't happy with that message."
Trump did nothing to stop his supporters at the North Carolina rally on Wednesday when they erupted into calls of "send her back" in response to the president's lengthy criticism of Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.
The chant echoed a series of tweets Trump posted on Sunday in which he said Omar and three other congresswomen of color should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
Distracter in chief: Donald Trump draws on familiar playbook with attacks on women lawmakers of color
Omar, who was born in Somalia, is a naturalized U.S. citizen who arrived in the country as a refugee at age 12.
The three other women Trump attacked – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York., Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan – are all U.S. citizens. All three were born in the United States.
Pressed further on the crowd's chant at the rally, Trump suggested reporters return to North Carolina to ask why supporters began the chant during Wednesday's rally.
"I didn't say that," Trump said, referring to the chant. "They did."
Asked why he did not stop the chant, Trump said: “I think I did – I started speaking very quickly." The first time the chant broke out during the North Carolina rally, Trump continued his speech and did not tell the audience to stop.
The second time supporters began chanting, Trump stood back from the lectern, paused in his remarks and listened as the crowd repeated the words nearly a dozen times.
Trump's remarks came after several Republican lawmakers distanced themselves Thursday from chants even as many defended Trump himself from charges of racism.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., posted on Twitter that he woke up "disgusted" by the chant, which he described as “ugly.”
The raucous scene that played out on stage hearkened to Trump's 2016 rallies, when supporters would often taunt Democrat Hillary Clinton with chants of "lock her up." Then, Trump basked in the chant and occasionally clapped along.
Other politicians have confronted audience members to avoid the blowback from their controversial statements. The most notable example came in 2008, when then Republican presidential nominee John McCain corrected a woman during a Minnesota town hall meeting who claimed that Barack Obama was "an Arab."
So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019
....and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump says he 'disagrees' with 'send her back' chant at rally