Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Tucson, Ariz., on Saturday. (Photo: Ross D. Franklin/AP)
Donald Trump is once again shrugging off the escalating violence at his rallies, saying the people protesting his presidential campaign are largely to blame for incidents like those seen on Saturday.
“These people are very disruptive,” Trump said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday. “These are not innocent lambs.”
The Republican frontrunner said the demonstrators who shut down an Arizona highway leading to the Phoenix suburb where he was scheduled to speak were violating his right to free speech — and the rights of his supporters to come hear him.
“They’re really stopping our First Amendment rights,” Trump said. “If you think about it, George, they block … they blocked a road, they put their cars in front of a road. We had thousands and thousands of people wanting to come. They were delayed for an hour because of these protesters.”
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Trump continued: “These are professional agitators, and I think that somebody should say that when a road is blocked going into the event so that people have to wait sometimes hours to get in, I think that’s very [unfair] and there should be blame there, too.”
He added: “I think it’s very unfair that these, really, in many cases professional, in many cases sick protesters can put cars in a road blocking thousands of great Americans from coming to a speech and nobody says anything about that.”
The brash billionaire also refused to condemn one of his supporters who punched a protester as he was being removed by security.
A protester is punched by a Trump supporter as he is escorted out of Republican frontrunner’s rally in Tucson, Ariz., on Saturday. (Photo: Mike Christy/Arizona Daily Star via AP)
“He or his partner was wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit,” Trump said of the protester. “This happened to be an African-American man who was very — a person at the rally, who was very, very incensed at the fact that somebody, a protester, would be wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit. Frankly, that was, you know, it was a tough thing to watch. And I watched that. But why would a protester walk into a room with a Ku Klux Klan outfit on?”
“We don’t condone violence, and I say it,” he said. “And we have very little violence, very, very little violence at the rallies.”
Trump even applauded his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, after a video appeared to show Lewandowski grabbing the collar of a protester at a rally in Tucson.
“I give him credit for having spirit,” Trump said. “He wanted them to take down those horrible, profanity-laced signs.”
Lewandowski came under fire earlier this month after he allegedly assaulted Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields after a press conference in Florida. Trump’s campaign denies her claims.
“When signs are put up, lifted up with tremendous profanity on them — I mean the worst profanity, and you have television cameras all over the place and people see these signs — I think maybe those people have some blame and should suffer some blame,” Trump said.