Trump threatens to dispatch supporters to Sanders rallies
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Trump threatens to dispatch supporters to Sanders rallies

Republic and Democratic candidates trade barbs after Chicago melee; GOP front-runner offers to pay legal fees of supporter accused of sucker-punching man at rally

A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump heckles demonstrators before the start of a rally at the University of Illinois in Chicago, Illinois, on March 11, 2016. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)
A supporter of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump heckles demonstrators before the start of a rally at the University of Illinois in Chicago, Illinois, on March 11, 2016. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)

A day after Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called Donald Trump a “pathological liar,” the Republican front-runner ramped up the rhetoric, threatening to send his supporters to the Democratic candidate’s rallies.

Trump has accused Sanders supporters of disrupting his rallies, including one in Chicago on Friday night that was canceled following skirmishes between backers of the Republican front-runner and protesters.

Early Sunday morning, in a tweet, Trump wrote: “Bernie Sanders is lying when he says his disruptors [sic] aren’t told to go to my events. Be careful Bernie, or my supporters will go to yours!”

On Saturday morning, at a rally in Dayton, Ohio, Trump talked about the Chicago event.

“All of a sudden a planned attack just came out of nowhere,” Trump said, adding that his supporters “were taunted, they were harassed by these other people, these other people by the way, some represented Bernie, our communist friend.”

Security guards rush the stage to surround Donald Trump, Dayton, Ohio, March 12, 2016 (CNN screenshot)
Security guards rush the stage to surround Donald Trump, in Dayton, Ohio, March 12, 2016. (CNN screenshot)

 

“Now really Bernie should tell his people… he should really get up and say to his people, ‘Stop, stop,’” Trump said.

On Sunday, Sanders said Trump was lying.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, greets his supporters as he arrives at Grand Valley State University Field House Arena in Allendale, Michigan, Friday, March 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, greets his supporters as he arrives at Grand Valley State University Field House Arena in Allendale, Michigan, Friday, March 4, 2016. (AP/Nam Y. Huh)

Anyone following Trump’s campaign “knows that he tells the truth very, very rarely” and that, in this instance, “he’s lying again,” Sanders told ABC’s “This Week.”

The Sanders campaign said in a statement released Saturday in response to Trump’s accusations: “As is the case virtually every day, Donald Trump is showing the American people that he is a pathological liar. Obviously, while I appreciate that we had supporters at Trump’s rally in Chicago, our campaign did not organize the protests.”

The clashes in Chicago come on the heels of violent incidents at other Trump rallies against protesters and journalists. Along with Trump and his supporters, the other Republican candidates criticized the behavior of the Chicago protesters.

Five presidential primaries are scheduled for Tuesday — in Illinois, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Missouri.

On Sunday morning, Trump said he would consider paying the legal fees of a North Carolina man captured on video sucker-punching a protester at one of the billionaire’s signature mass rallies.

The Secret Service and Cleveland Police keep a close watch as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the I-X Center in Cleveland, Saturday, March 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
The Secret Service and Cleveland Police keep a close watch as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the I-X Center in Cleveland, Ohio, on Saturday, March 12, 2016. (AP/Tony Dejak)

“I don’t accept responsibility. I do not condone violence in any shape,” Trump told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

But when asked whether he’d financially back the supporter, who was arrested and charged with assault, Trump said he’d “instructed my people to look into it, yes.”

Authorities have said John Franklin McGraw of Linden, North Carolina, was charged after he was caught on video hitting a man deputies were escorting at a Trump rally last Wednesday in Fayetteville.

Trump said that McGraw “got carried away” and “maybe he doesn’t like seeing what’s happening to the country.”

The man who was punched has told The Associated Press that he and others went to the event as observers, not protesters. He says someone swore at someone in their group, and by the time they tried to object, the police were escorting him out.

On Saturday, a Trump supporter shouted “Go to Auschwitz!” during a rally for the candidate in Kansas City, Missouri.

Donald Trump supporter shout, 'Go to Auschwitz!' following a rally for the leading Republican candidate on March 12, 2016. (Screen capture: Sakir Khader/Twitter)
Donald Trump supporter shouts, ‘Go to Auschwitz!’ following a rally for the leading Republican candidate on March 12, 2016. (screen capture: Sakir Khader/Twitter)

Earlier this month, Trump came under fire for asking supporters at a rally in Florida to raise their right hand and pledge to vote for him, prompting critics to compare the pledge to the Nazi salute.

Meanwhile, a woman caught in a photo making a Nazi salute outside the Chicago arena where the Trump rally was canceled told The New York Times that she used the gesture as a type of counter protest against those who compare Trump to the Nazi leader.

Birgitt Peterson, 69, who was born in West Berlin in 1946 and became an American citizen in 1982, told the Times she took offense to the comparison of Trump to Hitler. She asserted that she is not a Nazi sympathizer, as some who have seen the photo have suggested.

“They said Trump is a second Hitler. I said do you know what that sign stands for? Do you know who Hitler really was?” Peterson said. “I make the point that they are demonstrating something they had no knowledge about. If you want to do it right, you do it right. You don’t know what you are doing.”

 

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