“We’re going to have protests, demonstrations. We will disclose the hotels and the room numbers of those delegates who are directly involved in the steal…I have urged Trump supporters: Come to Cleveland, march on Cleveland, join us in the Forest City."
That was Roger Stone — the flamboyant veteran GOP strategist and Trump’s close ally — on Monday warning of the potential for “days of rage” at this summer’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, if Trump is denied the nomination after the fight for delegates concludes. Stone has repeatedly insisted that the Republican establishment is plotting to “steal” the nomination from the billionaire real-estate mogul, and Trump himself has warned of violence and rioting, if he isn’t the nominee come July.
Stone’s vow to help marshal the forces of pissed-off Trump fans and direct them to the hotel rooms of anti-Trump delegates was widely interpreted as a clear intimidation tactic and a threat of physical violence.
Team Trump does not, exactly, see it that way.
“This is not a threat of violence,” Trump surrogate Jeff DeWit said on CNN on Thursday, responding to the charge that “Donald Trump's hitman Roger Stone [was]…threatening violence in Cleveland.”
“No one threatened violence,” DeWit continued. “That is not a threat of violence at all to say, ‘Hey, by the way, we'll make sure we know how to get ahold of these people and everyone can go talk to these people.’”
When asked by the Washington Examiner if the Trump campaign wished to condemn Stone’s veiled (or not-so-veiled) threat, the campaign predictably demurred. "Roger Stone is not affiliated with the campaign," Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks wrote in an email. (Stone was reportedly let go from the campaign late last summer, but remains a prominent pro-Trump voice in the media and does what he can to organize efforts against the Republican frontrunner’s political enemies.)
The Republican National Committee did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment on Stone’s plan to have Trump supporters target specific hotel rooms. Trump’s Republican rivals and conservative critics, however, were quick to pounce on Stone’s comments.
“When will @realDonaldTrump tell his henchman @RogerJStoneJr to stop threatening GOP delegates?” Ted Cruz’s communications director Alice Stewart tweeted.
“Do you think it's reasonable to give out somebody's — not only their hotel, but their hotel room number and say go get them?” Beck said on his show on Wednesday. “And talk to them? If you are saying they're stealing something, and these are the bad guys that are doing it to you, do you really think that they're going to go talk to them? Is this incitement?”
“When you’re organizing mass demonstrations devoted to ‘rage’ and encouraging participants to descend on people’s hotel rooms to ‘discuss’ their vote, you’re not really into discussion,” Allahpundit blogged at Hot Air. “And if you doubt that, imagine Cruz’s spokesman encouraging mobs of angry Cruz fans to show up at Trump delegates’ doors for reciprocal ‘discussions’ — which may be in the cards if Cruz delegates end up being hurt.”
Many are bracing for what could devolve into a chaotic Republican convention this year. (The city of Cleveland sought to purchase 2,000 sets of riot gear in preparation for this nominating convention.)
Trump himself has a lousy-at-best track record of discouraging pro-Trump violence at his campaign events. In fact, the data has shown that Trump rallies have been getting more violent by the week. The GOP presidential candidate even told supporters at a campaign stop in January to “knock the crap out of [protesters],” adding that “I will pay for the legal fees. I promise.”
One of the more recent incidents of violence occurred at a rally in Wisconsin where police said a man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat pepper-sprayed a 15-year-old girl. Following the attack, a Trump fan told the girl, “You goddamn communist nigger-lover, get the hell out of here!”
Last month, a 78-year-old, cowboy-hat-donning man named John McGraw was charged with assault and battery after sucker-punching a black protester named Rakeem Jones at a Trump rally in North Carolina. When asked by Inside Edition why he assaulted the young anti-Trump activist, McGraw replied that "we don't know if he's ISIS. We don't know who he is, but we know he's not acting like an American, cussing me…If he wants it laid out, I laid it out."
"He deserved it," the 78-year-old Trump enthusiast added. "The next time we see him, we might have to kill him. We don't know who he is. He might be with a terrorist organization."
Trump, for his part, later (falsely) told the world that he was indeed attacked by ISIS in Dayton, Ohio. (He was merely stage-rushed by a left-wing activist who loves Bernie Sanders and Black Lives Matter.)
And we wonder why some people would fear a scenario in which delegates are targeted by Trump voters itching for a fight.