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story.lead_photo.caption President Donald Trump, along with his wife, Melania, meets Thursday with U.S. Special Olympics athletes in the Oval Office. He said he disagreed with a campaign crowd’s “send her back” chant Wednesday but continued to criticize four female Democratic freshman lawmakers, including Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. “They have such hatred,” he said of the four women.

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump on Thursday disavowed the "send her back" chant that broke out at his re-election rally Wednesday night when he railed against a Somali-born lawmaker.

Trump said he was "not happy" with the chant, directed at Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, a freshman Democrat whom the president has criticized repeatedly. On Thursday he said he had tried to cut off the chant. Asked why he did not stop it, Trump said, "I think I did -- I started speaking very quickly."

Video from the event showed that Trump looked around and paused as the crowd began to chant.

"I was not happy with it," Trump said Thursday at the White House. "I disagree with it.

"I didn't say that," he added. "They did."

[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkEoeR8Erks

Trump, though taking issue with the chant, didn't back away Thursday from his criticism of Omar and three other female Democratic lawmakers.

They have "a big obligation and the obligation is to love your country," he said. "There's such hatred. They have such hatred."

Trump's allies had warned privately that the president was on dangerous ground, according to people briefed on the conversations.

Among them were House Republican leaders, who pleaded with Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday morning to separate the party from the message embraced by the crowd in Greenville, N.C.

"That does not need to be our campaign call, like we did the 'lock her up' last time," said Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., a top official in the party's messaging arm, who attended the rally and tweeted hours later that he had "struggled" with the chant. "We cannot be defined by this."

Still, while they denounced the chant, Republican leaders declined to criticize Trump.

Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that Omar and the three other female Democratic lawmakers should "go back" to their countries.

"Those chants have no place in our party or our country," Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, told reporters.

Earlier Thursday, Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, chairman of the House Republican campaign arm, repudiated the chant but insisted that the Twitter posts that inspired the slogan had been mere mistakes of wording.

"There's no place for that kind of talk," Emmer said at a breakfast with reporters in Washington where he was asked about the chant. "I don't agree with that.

"There's not a racist bone in the president's body," Emmer added, referring to Trump's tweets. "What he was trying to say, he said wrong."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that it's time to "lower the rhetoric" about racism.

Still, Trump's inner circle urged him to quickly repudiate the chant. Ivanka Trump, his daughter and senior adviser, talked to the president about it Thursday morning, people familiar with the discussions said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge them.

Omar, a Somali refugee who is one of the first two Muslim women elected to the House, called Trump a "fascist" but said there was nothing new about his behavior or the response of his supporters.

She cited his years of false claims that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

"He does that every single day, and it's no different," Omar said at the Capitol. "What I'm going to be busy doing is uplifting people, and making sure they understand: Here in this country we are all Americans, we are all welcome, irregardless of what he says."

Walker said he had raised the issue with Pence at a breakfast Thursday, saying the chant was "something that we want to address early" before it became a staple of the president's rallies. "We felt like this was going to be part of our discussion, to make sure that we are not defined by that."

At least one civil-rights group, Muslim Advocates, said Wednesday that Trump's tweets and language were endangering the lives of Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., the other Muslim woman elected to Congress in November.

"The president's open, calculated, anti-Muslim bigotry is something we expect to see much more of throughout the 2020 campaign," Madihha Ahussain, the group's special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry, said in a statement. "All Americans, including all Democrats and Republicans, should unequivocally and immediately disavow this hatred."

Emmer tried to minimize the president's initial remarks.

"What he was trying to say is that if you don't appreciate this country, you don't have to be here," Emmer said. He quoted a constituent who told him that Omar's statements led people to believe that she hated America, adding, "How about a little gratitude with that attitude?"

The latest criticism of Trump's language comes two days after the House passed a resolution condemning his tweets and asserting that they were "racist comments that legitimized and increased hatred of new Americans and people of color." Four Republicans voted yes.

Information for this article was contributed by Alan Fram, Darlene Superville, Padmananda Rama, Zeke Miller, Deb Reichmann and Matthew Dal of The Associated Press.

Photo by AP/Star Tribune/GLEN STUBBE
Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota speaks to supporters Thursday as she arrives at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport after earlier calling Trump a “fascist.”

A Section on 07/19/2019

Print Headline: 'Not happy' with 'send her back chant,' Trump says

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Archived Comments

  • RBear
    July 19, 2019 at 6:22 a.m.

    Trump's statement quoted in the article, "I didn't say that," he added. "They did." Actually he did in the first tweet on this. Based on the way this is evolving, it's evident Republicans discovered how racist their language and reputation really is and are trying to repair the damage done by Trump and now his followers. They now have a "Pandora" they can't put back in the box. Every Trump rally will have "Send them back" or "Send her back" chants mixed in with the cheers, something that is not playing well with the American voter. They realize that and are trying to figure out how to quash this.

  • WGT
    July 19, 2019 at 6:44 a.m.

    Vote Democrat. Adults must return to the halls of leadership. This cult of personality raising its head in the form of this encouraged behavior cannot go farther. To republicans who have any sense of discerning between right and wrong, stop, go look yourself in the mirror, get a grip, understand, YOU, are the problem and get busy correcting this travesty.

  • einnorray
    July 19, 2019 at 7:04 a.m.

    Wow! after watching this video, we may not have the most well rounded and informed people driving the debate. 22nd, 26th rally? Come on, who has time for that 24/7 and manage our your daily lives. I wonder what they are doing to make "America Great Again", besides attending rallies.

  • 23cal
    July 19, 2019 at 8:10 a.m.

    "Trump said he was "not happy" with the chant...."
    *
    Right wingers apparently love b

  • mrcharles
    July 19, 2019 at 8:11 a.m.

    Remember McCain telling the typical GOP ILK during the 2008 presidential campaign that NO Obama was not an Arab but a good family man.
    Every day we see the crowd that jeered in 1957 the young black girl trying to go to school did not die but were reincarnated as trump supporters. They too used commie as a curse for those who they did not like.
    Is there hope, Yes there is. Just like in the civil rights struggle there will be both believers and non believers who will struggle against the present day citizen council & bull Connors of this country.

    I believe that the present climate of hate is being fueled by the theocratic ILKS of the right.

  • 23cal
    July 19, 2019 at 8:12 a.m.

    continued
    being lied to and gaslighted.

  • WhododueDiligence
    July 19, 2019 at 8:18 a.m.

    "On Thursday he said he had tried to cut off the chant. Asked why he did not stop it, Trump said, 'I think I did -- I started speaking very quickly.'"
    *
    The video shows that to be a big fat blatant lie. That's what Trump does regularly--make America gag again.

  • hah406
    July 19, 2019 at 8:27 a.m.

    Aside from more of Trump's lies, does it dawn on anyone in the GOP that those four congresswomen and others actually love America as well? They wouldn't have run for office otherwise. Perhaps they just have a different vision for making America an even better place than it already is, by progressing toward more inclusiveness, diversity, and opportunity in 2020 rather than trying to take us back to the 1950's.

  • WhododueDiligence
    July 19, 2019 at 8:33 a.m.

    "I didn't say that," he added. "They did."
    *
    Oh, so now you're blaming them--those bad people who support you. Maybe if you didn't tattle on them they'd play nice with you.

  • joedog
    July 19, 2019 at 8:37 a.m.

    Trump Rally = Clown Show
    aka reality tv for clowns

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