White House

Updated


President Donald Trump claimed Thursday he “was not happy” with the crowd at his campaign rally in North Carolina the previous evening for chanting “send her back,” after he had goaded the audience with a fiery attack on Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

“I was not happy with it. I disagree with it. But again, I didn’t say that. They did. But I disagree with it,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, adding that he “started speaking very quickly” in an attempt to silence the rally attendees.

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“It was quite a chant, and I felt a little bit badly about it,” Trump said, later hailing the crowd size inside the “packed arena” at Greenville’s East Carolina University and boasting of the “tremendous support” and “great energy” enjoyed by the Republican Party.

“I say there is far more energy on the right than there is on the left,” he said, adding, “I think we have far more support than they do and I think we have far more energy than they do. And we’re going to have a very interesting election. But I was not happy when I heard that chant.”

The chant has been condemned by a growing number of Republican lawmakers, with House GOP leadership conveying their concerns to Vice President Mike Pence during a meeting earlier in the day.

But the disavowal from Trump contrasts sharply with days of similar racist rhetoric he has leveled against Omar and three other freshman progressive House Democrats — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — beginning Sunday with his tweets urging the U.S. citizens and women of color to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Those incendiary posts resulted in the House approving a resolution Tuesday formally rebuking the president.

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