Trump Disavows Chant, Omar Defiant 07/19 06:13
President Donald Trump has chided his supporters who chanted "send her back"
when he questioned the loyalty of a Somali-born congresswoman, joining
widespread criticism of the campaign crowd's cry after Republicans warned about
political blowback from the angry scene.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump has chided his supporters who
chanted "send her back" when he questioned the loyalty of a Somali-born
congresswoman, joining widespread criticism of the campaign crowd's cry after
Republicans warned about political blowback from the angry scene.
In a week that has been full of hostile exchanges over race and love of
country on both sides, Trump also claimed he had tried to stop the chant at a
reelection event Wednesday night in North Carolina --- though video shows
otherwise. The crowd's "send her back" shouts resounded for 13 seconds as Trump
made no attempt to interrupt them. He paused in his speech and surveyed the
scene, taking in the uproar.
"I started speaking really quickly," he told reporters Thursday. "I was not
happy with it. I disagree with it" and "would certainly try" to stop any
similar chant at a future rally.
The taunt's target --- Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota --- responded
defiantly Thursday. She told reporters at the Capitol that she believes the
president is a "fascist" and cast the confrontation as a fight over "what this
country truly should be."
"We are going to continue to be a nightmare to this president because his
policies are a nightmare to us. We are not deterred. We are not frightened,"
she told a cheering crowd that greeted her like a local hero at the
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as she returned from Washington.
The back-and-forth captured the potential impacts of Trump's willingness to
inject racist rhetoric into his reelection fight. Trump's allies distanced
themselves from the chant, fretting over the voters it might turn off in next
year's election and beyond. Democrats, meanwhile, pointed to the episode as a
rallying cry to energy and mobilize their supporters to vote Trump out of
"We are ready," Omar said to cheers, before heading to a town hall on
Medicare for All.
Trump started the week's tumult by tweeting Sunday that Omar and three other
freshmen congresswomen could "go back" to their native countries if they were
unhappy here. His other targets --- all Trump detractors --- were Reps.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna
Pressley of Massachusetts.
All are American citizens, and all but Omar was born in the U.S. She fled to
America as a child with her family from violence-wracked Somalia.
The president did not back down from that criticism on Thursday.
They have "a big obligation and the obligation is to love your country," he
said. "There's such hatred. They have such hatred."
The chants at the Trump rally brought scathing criticism from GOP lawmakers
as well as from Democrats, though the Republicans did not fault Trump himself.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California declared that the chant
has "no place in our party and no place in this country."
Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois tweeted that it was "ugly, wrong, & would
send chills down the spines of our Founding Fathers. This ugliness must end, or
we risk our great union."
Citing Trump's rhetoric, House Democrats said they were discussing arranging
security for Omar and the three other congresswomen.
Even by Trump's standards, the campaign rally offered an extraordinary
tableau for American politics: a president drinking in a crowd's cries to expel
a congresswoman from the country who's his critic and a woman of color.
It was also the latest demonstration of how Trump's verbal cannonades are
capable of dominating the news. Democrats had hoped the spotlight on Thursday
would be on House passage of legislation to boost the minimum wage for the
first time in a decade.
To many GOP ears, this time the attention wasn't all positive.
Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, a conservative who attended Trump's
rally, told reporters at the Capitol that the chant "does not need to be our
campaign call like we did 'Lock her up' last time."
That was a reference to a 2016 campaign mantra that Trump continues to
encourage aimed at that year's Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary
Walker, who called the chant "offensive," was among about 10 House GOP
leaders who had breakfast Thursday with Vice President Mike Pence at Pence's
residence in Washington. Walker said he cautioned Pence that attention to the
chant could distract voters next year from the economy and other themes
Republicans want to emphasize.
"We don't need to take it that far where we change the narrative of the
story," he said he told Pence.
The lawmakers attending agreed that the chant was inappropriate and could
prove a harmful distraction, and Pence concurred and said he'd discuss it with
Trump, said another participant who described the conversation on condition of
In North Carolina, Trump berated each of the four congresswomen and said:
"They never have anything good to say. That's why I say, 'Hey if you don't like
it, let 'em leave, let 'em leave.'" He added, "I think in some cases they hate
His criticism of Omar included a false accusation that she has voiced pride