President Trump may already be having second thoughts about his supporters’ latest chant.
During Trump’s Wednesday night campaign rally in Greenville, N.C., his audience responded to the president’s latest attacks against Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., with a new three-syllable taunt: “Send her back!”
But after a morning of criticism over the chant from Republicans and Democrats alike, Trump told reporters that he did not approve of it — even though it was a slight tweaking of words lifted from one of his own tweets.
“I was not happy with it. I disagree with it,” Trump told reporters Thursday when asked about the phrase his crowd had employed.
Trump told reporters that he attempted to stop the chant in its tracks at the rally. "I think I did —I started speaking very quickly." Video of the event shows otherwise, however.
Like “Lock her up!,” the chant Trump’s supporters broke into throughout the 2016 presidential campaign at the mere mention of Hillary Clinton’s name, the new invective caused hand-wringing in Washington, and not just from Democrats.
Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., who broke with the GOP earlier this month after reading special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, warned that the chant was “dangerous.”
A chant like “Send her back!” is ugly and dangerous, and it is the inevitable consequence of President Trump’s demagoguery. This is how history’s worst episodes begin. We must not allow this man to take us to such a place.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) July 18, 2019
The genesis of the new chant started on Sunday, when Trump fired off a tweet attacking four Democratic congresswomen — Omar and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — telling them to “go back” to their “broken and crime infested” countries. All four are American citizens, and all but Omar, who fled Somalia as a child, were born in the U.S.
Trump’s attack led the House to pass a resolution condemning his words as “racist,” setting the stage for Wednesday’s campaign rally.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, a Republican who has embarked on a long-shot bid to replace Trump on the GOP’s presidential ticket for 2020, challenged members of his party to speak out against the chant.
I challenge every Republican to watch @realDonaldTrump’s rally last night, complete with chants of “Send her back”, and ask if that is the Party of Lincoln and Reagan we signed up for. We are in a fight for the soul of the GOP, and silence is not an option. #AmericaDeservesBetter
— Gov. Bill Weld (@GovBillWeld) July 18, 2019
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said hearing the crowd “would send chills down the spines of our Founding Fathers.”
I deeply disagree with the extreme left & have been disgusted by their tone. I woke up today equally disgusted - chants like “send her back” are ugly, wrong, & would send chills down the spines of our Founding Fathers. This ugliness must end, or we risk our great union.
— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) July 18, 2019
Even some of the president’s staunchest supporters cautioned that the chant had crossed a line. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who also defended Trump, told reporters Thursday that the words “have no place in our party and no place in this country.”
Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., who heads the House Republican Party’s campaign wing, echoed McCarthy. "There's no place for that kind of talk,” he told reporters. “I don't agree with it."
Democrats, meanwhile, continued to express outrage over the president’s attacks on their colleagues.
President @realDonaldTrump whipped up a toxic brew of racism, xenophobia, nativism
His crowd chanting “send her back” about a member of Congress & US citizen
The way he appeals to the worst instincts of some people was despicable—eerily familiar to what happens in dictatorships pic.twitter.com/928mav7WZl
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) July 18, 2019
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