Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE said he doesn’t condone the violent outbreaks that have erupted at some of his rallies, instead putting blame on protesters who are "bad dudes."
At Thursday night’s GOP presidential debate in Miami, the front-runner was asked about a recent event in which a supporter was arrested for sucker-punching a man in the face who was being escorted out of the venue.
CNN Anchor Jake Tapper asked Trump if he had encouraged that behavior by the tone he sets at the rallies.
“I hope not, I truly hope not,” Trump said. “We have 25,000 or 35,000 people who come with tremendous passion and love for this country ... and they have anger that’s unbelievable. They love this country, and they don’t like seeing bad trade deals, higher taxes, they don’t like seeing their jobs devastated. I see it. There’s anger, there’s also great love for their country. But I certainly do not condone that at all.”
Tapper pressed Trump, noting that at some rallies, Trump has said he’d like to punch a protester in the face, encouraged a protester be “ripped from their seat” and said he’d pay for the legal fees if the crowd piled on.
Trump responded by warning that some of the protesters are dangerous.
“We have some protesters who are bad dudes,” Trump said. “They have done bad things, and they are really dangerous and get in there and start hitting people, and we had a couple big, strong, powerful guys doing damage to people. ... It’s usually the police, the municipal government because I don’t have guards all over these stadiums. I mean, we fill up stadiums. “
Tapper gave each of Trump’s rivals a chance to criticize him for the scene, as Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPennsylvania GOP authorizes subpoenas in election probe We must mount an all-country response to help our Afghan allies Biden nominates ex-State Department official as Export-Import Bank leader MORE has done, but each passed.
Only Cruz took a mild swipe, noting that Trump asked his supporters to raise their right hands and pledge their support for him.
“Now, I have to say I think that’s exactly backwards,” Cruz said. “This is a job interview, we’re here pledging our support to you, not the other way around. “
Trump shot back, saying it’s all in fun.
“Everyone is laughing, we’re all having a good time and that’s why I have much larger crowds than Ted, because we’re having a good time.”
Trump blasted the media for comparing the scene to Nazi Germany, calling that critique a “total disgrace.”