Donald Trump appears to realize that the “Send her back” chant he instigated at a North Carolina rally on Wednesday night has frightened people.
The prospect of voters being whipped into a frenzy and demanding immigrants be forcibly deported even if they are sitting members of Congress is horrifying and has understandably been met with warnings that Trump is on the verge of crossing the Rubicon.
Of course, each and every time something like this happens, the same kinds of warnings are bandied about and, usually, the manic news cycle quickly surfaces another “bombshell”. This time, though, people sound genuinely concerned.
So, Trump attempted a bit of half-hearted damage control in remarks to reporters at the White House on Thursday. Asked specifically why he didn’t stop the chanting, he said “Well, I think I did”. Apparently, the president will claim that because he started talking over the crowd, he somehow discouraged them. That glosses over the fact that it was his own 3-minute-long harangue against Ilhan Omar that prompted the chant in the first place.
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Here’s the verbatim exchange:
Reporter: Why didn’t you ask them to stop saying that?
Trump: Well, number one I think I did, I started speaking very quickly and it really was, a loud – I disagree with it by the way – but it was quite a chant and uh, I felt a little bit badly about it, but I will say this – and I did, I started speaking very quickly – but it started up rather fast as you probably noticed.
Yes, yes we did “notice”, actually. And, again, the reason it “started up” in the first place is because the president spent the preceding 3 minutes implying that Omar is a terrorist. That is not hyperbole. If you’ve seen the unfortunate video (you can watch it at the link above), the idea that Trump did not intend to stir up the crowd by painting Omar as a national security threat is wholly ridiculous.
Asked if he will “tell your supporters never to say that again”, Trump demurred. “I was not happy with it”, he stammered, “I disagree with it, but I didn’t say that, they did”.
This is just another example of Trump claiming that we all haven’t seen and heard what we’ve seen and heard over the past three days. The president has said or otherwise suggested that Omar should be sent back to Somalia at least a half-dozen times, both on Twitter and in remarks to reporters carried on live television.
You can be absolutely sure that by the time the 2020 campaign gets rolling in earnest, “Send her back” will become as ubiquitous as “Lock her up”. Trump’s supporters will be chanting it at every rally and he’ll respond exactly as he responded on Wednesday evening: He’ll bask in the cacophony and pace around the stage, soaking in all the glorious hate effusing from the people he’s brainwashed.