BY NOAH BIERMAN
LOS ANGELES TIMET/TNS
WASHINGTON — The morning after chants of “Send her back” rang across one of his campaign rallies, President Donald Trump sought to disavow it, insisting that he “was not happy with it.”
Trump made no effort to stop the chants during his rally in North Carolina on Wednesday night. Instead, he paused during the shouting and looked on for several seconds, appearing to show approval.
The crowd broke into the chants of “Send her back” as Trump began cataloging grievances against Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
“I was not happy with it — I disagree with it,” Trump told reporters during a photo session in the Oval Office on Thursday morning.
SOME REPUBLICAN CRITICISM
His disavowal of the chants came after a growing number of Republican congressional leaders criticized it but sought to put distance between the president and the racist chants.
“Those chants have no place in our party or our country,” House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California told reporters.
Later, at a news conference, McCarthy avoided repeating his criticism and defended Trump, saying that “the president did not join in” the chanting. “The president moved on.”
Pressed on whether Trump should have admonished the crowd to stop, McCarthy said the question was unfair.
“You want to dislike the president so much, you want to try to hold him accountable for something in a big audience,” he said. “I think that’s an unfair position.”
REMINISCIENT OF 2016 CHANT
The head of the Republican congressional campaign committee, Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, was among Republican congressional leaders who criticized the chant.
“There’s no place for that kind of talk,” he said at a breakfast for reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
The shouts at the rally carried obvious echoes of Trump’s favorite 2016 chant, “Lock her up,” which broke its own norms by calling for the incarceration of his political opponent, Hillary Clinton. That chant became a hallmark of Trump rallies even long after he had defeated Clinton.
Omar is one of four women of color in the so-called “squad” of progressive members of Congress whom Trump attacked earlier this week, suggesting that they should “go back” to “the crime-infested places from which they came.”
The others are Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).
All four are American. Three were born in the United States; Omar was born in Somalia.
ALL FOUR CRITICIZED
The racist tweet prompted the House to pass a resolution of condemnation on Tuesday, mostly along party lines. Four Republicans and an independent joined the chamber’s Democrats in condemning Trump’s words.
The president has only reiterated his attacks, and his comments at Wednesday’s rally confirmed expectations that he plans to use the clash with the women to drive a hard racial wedge as he campaigns for reelection in 2020.
Trump is likely to use the highly partisan crowd’s chant as validation for his claim that “many people agree with me.”
Trump criticized each of the women by name and gave lengthy descriptions of what he said were anti-Semitic and anti-American sentiments. He also mocked Ocasio-Cortez for using two names, a common practice among Latinas, insisting he would only refer to her as “Cortez.”
“They said, ‘That’s not her name, Sir,” Trump told the crowd. “I said, ‘No, no I don’t have time to go with three different names.’ We’ll call her ‘Cortez.’”
Liberals are “always telling us how to run” the country, he said. “If they don’t love it, tell them to leave it.”