Trump defends response to rally chant: I did not 'lead people on'

Trump defends response to rally chant: I did not 'lead people on'
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE on Saturday doubled down on his defense of his handling of a rally crowd this week that chanted "send her back" when he took aim at progressive Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarMaher rails against anti-Israel boycott movement: 'A bulls--- purity test' for Democrats Pelosi hits Trump, Netanyahu for 'weakness' amid tensions over Omar and Tlaib Ocasio-Cortez brushes off Trump tweet claiming she is 'fuming' over Tlaib, Omar attention MORE (D-Minn.), maintaining that he didn't "lead people on" and was not "particularly happy" with the chant.

Trump in a tweet also reiterated his praise for the crowd, calling it "very big and patriotic." The president on Friday afternoon similarly praised those who took part in the chant at his rally in North Carolina, calling them "patriots" after earlier distancing himself from the chant.

"As you can see, I did nothing to lead people on, nor was I particularly happy with their chant. Just a very big and patriotic crowd. They love the USA!" Trump tweeted early Saturday, sharing a tweet that included video of the chanting crowd from his rally Wednesday night. 

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Trump first distanced himself from the chant Thursday as a number of GOP lawmakers spoke out against it, with Republicans saying they did not want it to become a narrative for the party heading into the 2020 elections. Trump said he disagreed with the audience reaction but has since spoken out in defense of the crowd while blasting what he called "crazed" media coverage of the controversy.
 
The rally chant punctuated days of political uproar over tweets Trump sent last weekend in which he called on four minority congresswomen to "go back" to where they came from, comments widely denounced by Democrats and a number of Republicans as racist.
 
All four Democrats targeted by Trump — Omar and fellow Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez brushes off Trump tweet claiming she is 'fuming' over Tlaib, Omar attention Trump finds consistent foil in 'Squad' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE (N.Y.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibMaher rails against anti-Israel boycott movement: 'A bulls--- purity test' for Democrats Pelosi hits Trump, Netanyahu for 'weakness' amid tensions over Omar and Tlaib Ocasio-Cortez brushes off Trump tweet claiming she is 'fuming' over Tlaib, Omar attention MORE (Mich.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyOcasio-Cortez brushes off Trump tweet claiming she is 'fuming' over Tlaib, Omar attention Trump finds consistent foil in 'Squad' Sen. Susan Collins: Israel should allow Omar, Tlaib to visit MORE (Mass.) — are U.S. citizens, and each was born in the U.S. with the exception of Omar, who was born in Somalia before immigrating to the United States as a refugee.
 
Omar was greeted by a crowd chanting "welcome home" when she arrived at a Minnesota airport this week.
 
On Friday, Trump ratcheted up his attacks on the four Democratic congresswomen, who are all outspoken critics of his administration, telling reporters at the White House before departing to New Jersey for the weekend, "I don’t know if it’s good or bad politically. I don’t care."
 
"Many people say it's good. I don't know if it's good or bad," he continued. "I can tell you this: You can't talk that way about our country. Not when I'm the president."