In the wake of incidents of increasing tension and violence at political rallies held by GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders is placing the blame squarely at the feet of the Republican candidate.
“I don’t think our supporters are inciting. What our supporters are doing is responding to a candidate who has, in fact, in many ways, encouraged violence,” Sanders said Saturday at a press conference in Chicago, in reference to the Donald Trump political rally that Trump cancelled because of protests.”When he talks about ‘I wish we were in the old days when you could punch somebody in the head.’ What do you think that says to his supporters?”
Sanders also pointed unhesitatingly to a violent incident early last week, when a black protester was sucker-punched by a Trump supporter as he was led out of a Trump rally.
“So the issue now is Donald Trump has got to be loud and clear and tell his supporters that violence at rallies is not what America is about and to end it,” Sanders said.
Trump has said at that he would cover the legal fees for anyone who assaults a protester, and is currently “looking into” covering the legal fees of the man who sucker-punched a protester at his rally.
Despite openly encouraging his supporters towards violence, Trump still attempted to paint Bernie Sanders as the reason behind the protests that led him to cancel his own rally, but Sanders certainly sees otherwise. In fact, on Saturday, Sanders slammed Trump as a “pathological liar” who is “inciting violence” at the town hall duel with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, held at Ohio State University and hosted by both CNN and TV One.
“I hesitate to say this because I really don’t like to disparage public officials, but Donald Trump is a pathological liar,” Sanders said bluntly.
The line drew huge applause, and Sanders finished his assessment of Donald Trump, drawing a stark contrast between his own beliefs and campaign against those of the Republican frontrunner.
“Our campaign does not believe in and never will encourage anybody to disrupt anything. We have millions of supporters, and people do what they do, and people have the right to protest. I happen not to believe that people should disrupt anybody’s meetings, but let me say something about Mr. Trump. Some of you may have read just a few hours ago that Mr. Trump said that he is prepared to pay for the legal costs of an individual who sucker-punched somebody at a recent event. He is going to pay the legal fees of somebody who committed a terrible act of violence. What that means is that Donald Trump is literally inciting violence with his supporters. He is saying if you go out to beat somebody up, that is okay, I’ll pay the legal fees. That is an outrage and I would hope that Mr. Trump tones it down big time and tells his supporters that violence is not acceptable in the American political process.”
Sanders said that Trump also needs to do more in order to reign in the violence.
“Trump has to get on the TV and tell his supporters that violence in the political process in America is not acceptable, end of discussion,” Sanders said.
For his part, Donald Trump continues to deny that his rhetoric has prompted violence from any of his own supporters. In fact, he has denied that there has even been any violence at his events, despite the evidence to the contrary, and has said that he actually deserves “credit” for the tone of his rallies.
But even fellow Republicans like Marco Rubio and John Kasich believe the blame lies with Donald Trump.
Rubio said that Trump “has turned the most important election in a generation into a circus, into a complete fiasco and a carnival.” He then suggested that he may consider withdrawing his pledge to support the Republican nominee if Trump wins the actual nomination.
“It’s getting harder every day to justify that statement to myself, to my children, to my family, and to the people that support me,” Rubio said.
[Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images News]