Trump rally: Republican congressman tells president to stop 'send her back' chants

President campaigns in battleground state of Ohio

Andrew Buncombe
Seattle
@AndrewBuncombe
Thursday 01 August 2019 19:31
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Donald Trump claims he tried to stop 'send her back' chants by 'speaking very quickly'

A Republican congressman has urged Donald Trump not to allow a repeat of the racist chants he appeared to encourage at a recent rally, when he holds a campaign event in the crucial state of Ohio.

The president was widely condemned after he stood silent at an event in North Carolina two weeks ago as the crowd yelled “send her back”, when he started talking about Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

Ms Omar was one of four women of colour the president has urged to “go home” in a series of racist tweets and comments, which he denied were racist. Three of the women, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, were born in the US, while Ms Omar came here two decades ago as a refugee from Somalia.

Ahead of his first rally since the controversial event in Greenville, a Republican congressman has urged the president to avoid a repeat performance.

Steve Chabot, who represents a district in Cincinnati, Ohio, where Thursday’s event is being held at the US Bank Arena, told the Associated Press that if chants do break out again, he believed the president would act more quickly. Ohio, which Mr Trump won 52 – 44 against Hillary Clinton, has long been one of the nation’s electoral battlegrounds.

“I would discourage the crowd from doing anything inappropriate and I think saying something like that would be inappropriate,” said Mr Chabot.

“I would hope that the president would silence the crowd, tell them, ‘Hey, don’t do that, there’s no place for that. It’s not helpful, it’s not right’.”

Mike Pence, the vice-president, has also said the president might step in.

Trump supporters chant 'send her back' after president attacks Ilhan Omar

“If it happened again, he might make an effort to speak out about it,” he said recently.

The chants in North Carolina, along with the series of racist tweets, reportedly concerned senior members of Mr Trump’s White House staff, as well as his family. Reports said his eldest daughter Ivanka had spoken to her father about his comments, which were strongly condemned by the House of Representatives in a rare vote of censure.

Speaking to reporters in the White House the following day, Mr Trump sought to distance himself from the chants, and claimed he tried to stop them. “I think I did. I started speaking very quickly,” he said.

As it was, recordings of the event showed he allowed the chants to go on for up to 14 seconds before he continued his address.

The president’s protestations were further undermined by the fact another of his children, Lara Trump, had warmed up the North Carolina crowd before her father appeared.

She said: “If you don’t love our country, the president said it, you can…”

The crowd then responded: “Leave.”

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