79°F
weather icon Clear

Trump regrets ‘send her back’ chant at campaign rally

Updated July 18, 2019 - 4:18 pm

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump did something Thursday he rarely ever does: He expressed regret that his supporters chanted, “Send her back,” at a Greenville, North Carolina, rally Wednesday night after Trump panned Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., as anti-American.

“I feel a little bit badly about it,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, adding that he disagreed with the chant.

Asked why he didn’t try to stop the chant, Trump replied, “I think I did. I started speaking very quickly.” But video of the event showed the president paused for 13 seconds as his supporters repeated the refrain, “Send her back.”

It was a moment reminiscent of 2016 campaign events when Trump supporters chanted, “Lock her up,” after Trump mentioned his rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

It was a week of finger-pointing from Trump and four first-term members of Congress known as “the squad” — Omar and Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. — who frequently refer to Trump as a racist.

This week’s furor began Sunday when Trump tweeted, “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 it is done.” It was an odd remark given that Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley were born in America, and Omar emigrated from Somalia as a child and became a naturalized U.S. citizen at age 17.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the Washington establishment called the Sunday tweets “racist.” On Tuesday the House condemned the tweets by a 240-187 vote, largely on party lines.

Unbowed as he spoke to his base in North Carolina on Wednesday evening, Trump called the progressive Democrats “hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down.” Then he re-fashioned his go-back rhetoric as simply his way of saying, “Hey, if they don’t like it, let them leave.”

The uproar that followed the “Send her back” chant showed how Trump’s tactics have the potential to backfire — and even threaten to sabotage his 2020 re-election effort. Trump clearly intended to undermine Democrats by pitting the speaker against “the squad,” but he ended up prompting an intra-party war between usually pro-Trump Republicans and Trump himself.

Chant ‘wrong, vile’

Thursday morning, Republican Jewish Coalition Executive Director Matt Brooks tweeted, “The ‘send her back’ chants were wrong, vile, and don’t reflect who we are as Americans.” Brooks added that while he disagreed with Omar’s viewpoints, “those chants have no place in our society.”

Brooks told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he is “not a ‘Never Trumper’ at all. I’m a proud supporter of the president,” and he thinks Trump is the most pro-Israel president ever.

Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., also targeted the Greenville chanters while giving Trump a pass. Emmer told a Christian Science Monitor breakfast that what Trump “was trying to say, he said wrong.” As for the “Send her back” chant, he said, there is “no place for that kind of talk.”

Former Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., tweeted that the chant was “ugly. It’s ignorant. It’s dangerous. And it’s un-American. It’s flat out bigotry. And every Republican should condemn this bigotry immediately.”

Even House Chaplain Pat Conroy chimed in with an opening prayer that recognized the “difficult and contentious week in which darker spirits seem to have been at play in the people’s house.”

#IStandWithIlhan became a popular hashtag on Twitter. Omar herself reacted on Twitter with a hand-waving emoji and the caveat, “I am where I belong, at the people’s house and you’re just gonna have to deal!”

Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, Omar called Trump a “fascist,” and Ocasio-Cortez proclaimed, “We are not in politics anymore. We are in racism.”

House Democrats voiced their concern for the security of “the squad,” who have been recipients of death threats.

New Democratic leaders?

Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the Trump campaign, said in a statement, “The Squad, as they call themselves, are now the leaders of the Democrat Party. Americans don’t like it when elected officials consistently disparage this country. All the Democrats are pushing socialist ideas that are terrible for America. They are all the same.”

Murtaugh told the Review-Journal the chants were “spontaneous” and not prompted by the campaign. Trump told reporters that if supporters started the same chant in the future, he would try to stop them.

It’s easy to see “where the audience got the idea for that chant. Now that it exists, it’s not going to stop,” GOP strategist Alex Conant told the Review-Journal.

“I think it’s clear what kind of campaigning this is going to be,” Conant said. “It’s going to be the 2016 campaign on steroids. The over-the-top rhetoric worked for him in 2016. He has no intention to change now.”

Democratic strategist Maria Cardona agreed. She predicted 18 months of “Send her back” chants because Trump and his people “are convinced it’s the only way he can win.”

“Trump needs to expand his base,” Cardona said. Instead she sees a campaign that is working overtime to mobilize white, non-college educated older voters and giving up on younger voters, urban voters and people of color, “all three of which are the groups that are growing and expanding demographically.”

Contact Debra J. Saunders at DSaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
THE LATEST
Justice Dept. says it sent anti-Semitic post to immigration judges

Assistant Press Secretary Kathryn Mattingly said the daily morning news briefings are compiled by a contractor and the blog post should not have been included.

Global economy focus for Trump, G-7 leaders at start of summit

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and other leaders of the world’s most industrialized nations will open their annual G-7 summit over the weekend by discussing the global economy.