Donald Trump suggested that Bernie Sanders supporters bear the responsibility for violence at Trump rallies, making the rounds of Sunday news shows in an attempt to deflect blame for the increasingly common violence from himself.
As MSN reports, Trump stopped by CBS News’ Face the Nation on Sunday to address the matter of violence at his rallies. In the past week, Trump rallies have marred by acts of violence in at least three high-profile incidents, including a protester being sucker-punched in the back of the head at a North Carolina rally, violent clashes between Trump supporters and protesters at a rally in Saint Louis, and the cancellation of a Trump rally in Chicago due tens of thousands of protesters and supporters creating a volatile environment.
— Mashable News (@MashableNews) March 10, 2016
“Many of these people come from Bernie [Sanders].”
Later Sunday, Trump took to Twitter to suggest that his supporters may turn up at Bernie Sanders events to disrupt Sanders rallies.
Bernie Sanders is lying when he says his disruptors aren’t told to go to my events. Be careful Bernie, or my supporters will go to yours!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2016
In fact, if anything, Trump appears to be doubling down on the violence at his rallies. Of the Trump supporter who sucker-punched a protester — while the crowd erupted in cheers and the police tackled and cuffed the protester, not the man who assaulted him — Trump said he’s interested in paying the assailant’s legal fees.
“I’ve actually instructed my people to look into it, yes.”
Bernie Sanders, for his part, is not taking such accusations lying down, according to CNN. At a rally in Columbus, Ohio, the democrat candidate slammed Trump for creating a hostile environment that encourages violence.
“A candidate for president of the United States should condemn violence, not encourage violence. You don’t go around and say it’s okay to beat somebody up and then pay the legal fees. That’s not what this country is about.”
— WOOD TV8 (@WOODTV) March 5, 2016
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Trump’s most serious competition for the eventual Republican nomination, also decried Trump’s rhetoric that seems to encourage violence.
“At the end of the day in any campaign, responsibility starts at the top. And it is not beneficial when you have a presidential candidate like Donald Trump telling his supporters, ‘Punch that guy in the face.’ “
Similarly, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who is trailing Trump and Cruz, and whose campaign may be nearing an end if Florida’s Tuesday primary goes to anyone else, tried to distance himself from Trump’s rhetoric.
“There are people out there that listen to this stuff and we don’t know how they’re going to react. And he keeps putting this stuff out there. We’re going to have an ugly scene here; we already have seen these ugly scenes.”
In fact, according to a March 10 Slate report — published before the violent clashes between Trump supporters and protesters in Chicago and Saint Louis — violence has been a fixture of Donald Trump rallies since as early as October, 2015. In a string of violent incidents, Donald Trump supporters have been caught on camera hurling racial slurs at protesters, kicking and spitting at them, punching them, making vulgar gestures at them, and yelling hate-filled obscenities at them.
— G. Ayo Sopitan (@gsopitan) March 14, 2016
Do you believe Bernie Sanders is responsible for the violence protests at Donald Trump rallies? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images]