Hours before his Thursday night campaign rally in Ohio, President Donald Trump addressed the possibility of the crowd taking part in another racist chant directed at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). The president was non-committal about whether he’d try to stop it.
During a rally earlier this month, the president basked in chants of “Send Her Back!” after he railed against Omar. The chants came on the heels of the president’s repeated bigoted attacks on Omar and other progressive congresswomen of color—including calling on them to “go back” to where “they came” from.
Prior to his departure for Thursday's rally, the president was asked by a reporter if he’d tell his supporters to “stop if they say something problematic.” Trump replied that he doesn’t know what will happen.
“I can’t tell you whether or not they’re going to do that chant,” he stated. “If they do the chant, we’ll have to see what happens.”
Asked if he’d stop them if they started—akin to how Sen. John McCain famously scolded a rally-goer who shouted racial epithets against then-candidate Barack Obama—the president made no promises.
“I don’t know that you can stop people,” he declared. “I don’t know that you can. We will see what we can do. I would prefer they don’t but if they do it, but if they do it, we’ll have to make a decision then.”
The day after the chants, and following widespread condemnation and outrage, Trump claimed that he was “not happy when I heard the chant.” He also falsely asserted that he quickly intervened to stop the crowd when, in reality, he silently soaked in the chant for at least 12 seconds and waited for it to die down before resuming his speech.