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Trump blasts minority Democrats, rally crowd chants 'send her back'

President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE used a campaign rally in North Carolina on Wednesday to stoke his supporters’ anger over a group of four minority, progressive Democratic congresswomen, drawing boos and chants of “send her back” when he ramped up his attacks.

The scene laid bare Trump’s effort to use the group to frame Democrats as extreme ahead of the 2020 election but also fueled the notion that he is seeking to exploit the nation’s racial divisions for political gain.

“The leading voices of the Democrat Party are left-wing extremists who reject everything our nation stands for,” Trump told the crowd in Greenville, N.C. “These left-wing ideologues see our nation as a force of evil.”

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The president then mentioned each of the four Democratic lawmakers by name, running through a laundry list of quotes he said proved they are out of the mainstream. When Trump was in the middle of a diatribe against Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan Omar Omar: 'Disappointing' that we're 'sending money to less people than the Trump administration' House approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act House Democrats' ambitious agenda set to run into Senate blockade MORE (D-Minn.), the crowd broke into chants of “send her back.”

The president continued his days-long attack against Omar, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia, over her past statements about al Qaeda, the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, ISIS and Israel.

Trump also mocked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezProgressives won't oppose bill over limits on stimulus checks Bipartisan bill would ban lawmakers from buying, selling stocks The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - J&J vax rollout today; third woman accuses Cuomo MORE (D-N.Y.) by refusing to call her by her full name. “We’ll call her Cortez. Too much time,” he said.

He joked Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyPressley says image of Black custodial staff cleaning up Capitol after Jan. 6 riot 'haunts' her DeJoy apologizes for mail delays while defending Postal Service changes DeJoy set for grilling by House Oversight panel MORE (D-Mass.), who is black, could be related to the singer Elvis Presley and of Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibSinema pushes back on criticism of her vote against minimum wage, implying that it's sexist Progressives push White House to overturn wage ruling Six ways to visualize a divided America MORE (D-Mich.), he said “that's not somebody that loves our country.”

“They never have anything good to say. That’s why I say, ‘hey if they don’t like it, let them leave. Let them leave,’ ” Trump said. “They’re always telling us how to run it how to do this — you know what, if they don’t love it, tell them to leave it.”

The comments at the rally, which took place in a state Trump won narrowly in 2016, were a chance to road-test his attacks in front of a friendly crowd. The audience’s boisterous reaction was reminiscent of the “lock her up” chants Trump’s supporters use against former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: China implicated in Microsoft breach | White House adds Big Tech critic | QAnon unfazed after false prediction Jill Biden redefines role of first lady QAnon supporters unfazed after another false prediction MORE.

But the broader reaction could be a test of whether the strategy will backfire. More than 20 percent of registered voters in North Carolina are black, and the state backed former President Obama in the 2008 election.

Trump set off a firestorm on Sunday when he tweeted the female progressive lawmakers “who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe” should “go back and help fix the totally broken crime infested places from which they came.” All four congresswomen are U.S. citizens.

The tweets were met with fierce backlash from Democrats and a handful of Republicans who decried them as racist. The House formally voted to condemn the comments on Tuesday.

But Trump has dug in, blasting the members of the self-described “Squad” in each of the past four days and asserting his tweets were not racist.

The president has indicated he believes the fight is politically beneficial, seeking to make the four congresswomen the face of the Democratic Party.

“I do think I’m winning the political fight. I think I’m winning it by a lot,” Trump told reporters before departing for Wednesday night’s rally.

He also sought to push back against the notion that his attacks could hurt him with suburban and female voters in next year’s election, in part by acknowledging people in the crowd holding “Women for Trump” signs.

“They say women don’t love Trump. I think they do,” he said, arguing they support his policies on taxes, law enforcement and the military.

Just before Trump landed in North Carolina, the House voted 332-95 to table articles of impeachment against the president. Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenHouse Democrat sits on Capitol steps to protest extremist threat Biden pledges support for Texas amid recovery from winter storm Biden turns focus to winter storm with Texas trip MORE (D-Texas) introduced the measure in response to Trump’s tweets about the four congresswomen.

Trump addressed the vote at the top of his remarks to supporters, calling the measure “stupid," describing the vote as “lopsided” and decrying the effort to remove him from office as a “disgrace.”