Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump grew increasingly frustrated as protesters roiled a Friday-afternoon rally in Missouri.
Just a day after a CNN debate in which he was confronted with his sometimes violent rhetoric towards hecklers, Trump initially started treating his protesters with sarcastic deference.
“For the press: The officers are being very gentle, very gentle, very gentle,” Trump said after yet another protester was escorted out.
See, nowadays we have to say that, right? We have to be politically correct: “Oh, please don’t hurt them.” They’re allowed to get up and interrupt us horribly, and we have to be very, very gentle, and very gentle. They can swing, they can hit people, but if we hit them back, it’s a terrible, terrible thing, right?
They can get up and when they’re being whisked out, they can raise their bad finger up in the air … and some people get very angry at that. Because you know what that represents. And then when they get a little bit overly angry, they’re in trouble. The guy that raised his finger, that’s no problem. No, that’s no problem.
On Thursday, a Trump rally attendee was reportedly charged for allegedly assaulting a protester who was filmed raising his middle finger to the crowd before being sucker punched. The incident was brought up at Thursday’s debate, during which moderator Jake Tapper asked Trump if he was responsible for the “tone” of his rallies.
Trump told Tapper that he did not condone violence, but the CNN anchor also quoted Trump saying at rallies that he wanted to punch protesters in the face. At another rally, Trump said he would pay the legal bills of anyone who beat the “crap” out of potential demonstrators throwing tomatoes at him.
A good portion of Trump’s Friday rally in St. Louis, Missouri, was devoted to criticising his frequent protesters.
“Get him out! Go home to mummy!” Trump said as one heckler was escorted out.
“Go home and get a job. Go home. Get a job. Get a job!” Trump said to another.
“They add nothing. They add nothing, believe me. They add nothing. And there’ll be another couple others [who] jump up soon,” Trump said after yet another interruption.
Trump, growing increasingly agitated, soon returned to complaining about how gentle the protesters were being treated by security officials at the rally:
Part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore, right? And they’re being politically correct the way they take them out. So it takes a little bit longer. And honestly, protesters realise … there are no consequences to protesting anymore. There used to be consequences. There are none anymore.
“Our country has to toughen up, folks,” Trump added. “We have to toughen up. These people are bringing us down, remember that.”
Instead of saying he wanted to punch the protesters in the face, Trump only strongly suggested it this time.
After still more demonstrations, Trump paused and said: “It would be so nice. It would be so nice. I won’t say what’s on my mind, folks. It would be so nice. I won’t say it. I refuse to say it. I’m a nice person. I refuse to say it.”
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